WELCOME TO MY GARDENING BLOG!

I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Honey makes the world go round!

The time of year has arrived for bee swarms here in Brittany - last week I was out gardening for one of my clients - when I arrived heard the light hum of bees, only to discover the rather large beginnings of a nest behind one of the bedroom shutters - this was a close up and the next photo was the view from the bedroom!  It's true to say I'd never seen so many bees together in my life!

Wasting no time, I called up a friend over here who is not only a fellow gardener but who has also taken up bee-keeping quite seriously - you should check out his blog.  We agreed it was best to get the swarm removed as soon as possible before it got too big and established... so these photos show you the wonderful entertainment we had last Thursday evening... a first for me and quite amazing!

As the swarm had chosen a first floor window, the first part of this rather delicate operation was to open the bedroom shutter from the inside so that we could get to work on the outside of the house without half the bees coming indoors - only 2 made it into the house which was a relief and that bit done, the work started from the outside.

We put up a ladder to the side of the swarm and as you'll see in the photo below, Richard went up (suited-up of course) to inspect the job that lay ahead! 







It was certainly a decent size of what he felt were relatively docile bees - I was keeping my distance at this point!









He then moved the ladder over and brought up what is called a nuc box - which acts as an interim home before they're transferred to a proper hive.  He tied this on to the balcony railings to hold this in place.

 










 The next job was lighting some dry grass inside the smoker - from the photo this looks highly dangerous but it was all under control!







 
The smoker was then used by puffing smoke around the area where the bees were which helps when moving them and keeps them a bit calmer - apparently. Once some of the bees had moved, we got a glimpse of the comb that they'd made - this is essentially wax cells in which they lay their eggs - in thin circular sheets.

It was a pretty delicate operation for Richard to remove these wax sheets and place them in the frames that he had prepared - initially held in place with rubber bands... fascinating!  Not long after this he spotted the queen - not easy with all the thousands of bees :-) - she was caught in a small device and placed in the box and she is what then attracts the rest of the swarm into the nuc box.

Bit by bit as you'll see in this next picture the original "rugby ball" shape of the swarm was lessening and as the remaining wax was moved into the nuc, the bees were all walking down the window - literally - following each other in search of the Queen... this transformation was incredible!










The swarm continued to move down the window - the last few needing a bit more help from the smoker.
You can see from this photo the last of the bees going into the bottom entrance of the nuc box...










And this really was the last of them... and finally we were able to pack up and they went off to their new home... I love a happy ending!

 Having so enjoyed Sarah Raven's TV series on the BBC a couple of months back this made me realise even more, how incredibly important bees are to everyone, and really without them, there would be a very small selection of foods that we would be able to choose from in the supermarkets... even chocolate & coffee depend on pollination!  So next time you're thinking of what to plant in your gardens... think of the bees and pollinating insects... if you need any hints and tips on suitable plants, let me know and I'll happily tackle this topic in a future posting! Bon weekend and hope you enjoyed something a bit different.

10 comments:

Vesna - Kalipso said...

Last week I was helping my friend hoeing the field of potatoes and a large swarm of bees just flew over us! Somewhat terrifying experience. Jut a few days ago a swarm of bees attacked an old women who unfortunately died of poisoning. Sweet, but dangerous. Wonderful post.

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Vesna - many thanks for posting on my blog - sorry that your experience of bees has perhaps not been v. positive and I can imagine a swarm flying over must have been terrifying too. I think they are insects we should respect, as I mentioned at the end of the post we would be without so many of our foods if it wasn't for them! Amazing when you look closely in the garden quite how many bee species there are!

Randy Emmitt said...

Miranda,

It looks like your beekeeper friend did a great job of rustling in those bees. My limited experience with swarms is they choose the prettiest blooming yards to set up a swarm in. So it seems your work in that garden met their approval.

Crystal said...

Absolutely fascinating. Wonderful post. Glad all went well.

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks Randy for your encouraging comments - Richard did a great job with the bees - it was an amazing experience seeing the whole thing happen. I've tried very hard in this garden and all the gardens I look after to plant things suitable for all wildlife and particularly good for bees and pollinators. The hardy geraniums are great but have had lots of success with Verbascums too - very easy to grow!

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Crystal - it was fascinating and was lovely to post about something a bit different... you have a lovely blog have just visited... will be back again soon - Miranda

Midmarsh John said...

What a brilliant photographic record of the event. Thanks for sharing.

Brittanygirl said...

Extraordinary photos, Miranda. Very interesting! Sandra

Miranda Bell said...

MMJ - I'm so sorry for never replying to your kind comments on my blog - but glad you liked the photos... bon weekend! Miranda

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks Sandra - this was an amazing experience to see this! Miranda x