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IMG_0390Flip to the Bee Side – Paul tells his tale about his bees

As I walked past my five hives of bees this evening, not paying much attention, I heard a deep buzzing noise coming from one of them. I bent my ear close to the hive entrance(there being no flying on this damp dusk) and the buzzing increased as if they were being disturbed. I glanced up and realised that I had failed to observe a medium sized swarm of about 5000 bees, clustered on the outside of the hive 6 inches from my face. Yikes! I thought, along with some other less Enid Blyton like curses!!

Have a Go Beeman.

My challenge, I decided, was to find a way of collecting, hiving and feeding the swarm, within the twenty minutes of daylight left to me. I had to think quick, and this is what I did.

Cakus Interuptus

Firstly, interrupt Pauline making Rhubarb cake in the kitchen to boil the kettle and make some sugar syrup. Then search for a suitable way of scanning the  bees off the flat wooden exterior of the hive. My eyes alighted on a box of 12 Schweppes tonic waters. The empty cardboard box, with it’s end cut off made a perfect scoop for bee collection. So I hoped.

Job Done!

I trotted off to the bees in the field, got my kit on, and slowly slid the tonic box, whilst holding it tight, flat against the hive, until all the bees slipped into the box. Amazingly, I collected all but three bees in a matter of seconds. Two minutes later they were in the new hive with a feeder full of syrup and a reduced entrance to discourage other bees from robbing.

Moral of the Tale 

a swarm in the hive is worth two in the bush !

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This week Paul and I are very honoured to have been asked to help The Sussex Beacon gardening team with supplying Sussex Prairie plants for a mini prairie  bed in the wonderful Beacon garden .Located high up on what must have been a former fire beacon position the unit snuggly nestles into the hillside and curves around its slopes . The garden is set at its heart.

Having met with the volunteers we worked out our plan of action  ! Firstly Paul and I will design a simple planting scheme using some of our signature prairie plants that would fit the garden perfectly and then the plan is that the team will come out to us and help propagate the plants that will go into the border . Propagating from our immense plant stock here in our garden we will have a choice of  super varieties. Having set them going in our polytunnel we will then plant up the space in early spring hopefully in time for a bit of colour to be emerging in readiness for this years Garden Gadabout in June and July.

The Sussex Beacon is a dedicated HIV centre , which has been at the forefront of specialist HIV service delivery since 1992. The ten bedded unit cares for people recovering from serious HIV related illness and supports those initiating new drug therapies or struggling with the extreme side effects of antiretroviral medication. And at the heart of the unit is a calm restful haven : the garden. Green space and the peaceful courtyard will be the perfect place for the plants we love to encourage bird and insect life into the garden. The gentle noise of grasses moving and the soft colours will be beautiful there.Paul and I are really looking forward to this project and getting to know further the wonderful volunteers who are working to make the whole place such a success.

 

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