Today's objective was to get the mower deck painted, so the first task of the morning was to drag The Shitter from the garage and head over to B&Q in Redditch. Twenty minutes later I was heading home with a brush and a can of Hammerite in a fetching shade of yellow.
After a quick coffee, the mower was again upturned and a first coat of yellow paint was daubed around the underside of the deck.* By the time I was finished and cleaned up it was time for an early lunch taken in the cool of the house.
After lunch I headed back out in to the garden to remove a stump from the edge of the lawn. It is the last remnant of a scruffy line of shrubs that we removed last year. The plan is to level out the bed and turf it. Of course; nothing is ever that simple and a low retaining wall will need to be constructed from railway sleepers and a couple of tons of top soil will also be needed ...
... we have a man coming over to attend to this in a fortnight's time.
With the stump now added to my "tip pile" I grabbed a spade and spent the next couple of hours edging the lawn. It was sweltering and this was far more energetic than I had expected. I finished and took on fluids before applying the second coat of paint to the mower. It took about half an hour to apply the second coat and I have to report that the finish is hopefully "functional' rather than "attractive".
With the mower finished I retired to the sofa and attempted to get my blood sugar levels back to normal.
About an hour later TP and I donned veils and gloves and headed out to inspect the hive.
I last checked it on 29th April, just before we left for The Gower. At that point I was somewhat concerned. The nucleus colony was introduced to the hive a week prior to that, but in that time they had done very little. They hadn't touched the syrup in the feeder and had barely started to draw out the foundation on the new frames.
The weather had not been particularly pleasant for their first week at The Pile and I was concerned by the lack of development and whether they had sufficient stores to last another week of poor weather.
I was somewhat reassured by the fine weather last week and was hopeful as we approached the hive. The bees still hadn't touched the sugar syrup but had obviously been very busy out in the fields and gardens. The main cluster had expanded over further frames and had drawn out the foundation in to neat hexagonal cells on most of the frames in the brood box.** They had even started to fill these cells will nectar and pollen from their foraging.
It is fair to say that the colony was in much better shape than a week previously. As I pondered their progress I realised that there was a risk that their stores were taking up cells where the queen should be laying. I think I may need to give them a Super*** to move in to tomorrow.
---* I would like to say this had a factory fresh, professionally applied appearance, but dribbly and patchy are closer to the truth. I am working on the principal that a) no-one will see it and b) it is there to prevent rust, not look gorgeous.
** A brood box hold eleven frames. Five of these were provided as part of the nucleus colony and were filled with stores, pollen and brood. I then added six frames of foundation. This is a thin beeswax sheet imprinted with a honeycomb pattern. The bees produce beeswax and build new cells using the foundation as a template.
*** A Super is a removable hive section that holds shallow frames. These frames are used by the bees for honey production rather than brood. At the end of the season the Supers can be removed and the honey harvested.