Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Birds and the Bees

Arrived on the Allotment with the chicks, put them in their new home, and went to see the rest of the Chooks.   Norman was back in with the Breeding Flock and, to my surprise, Siouxie Sioux had joined them as well!    NotNorman was the only Laydee left in the Laydees Pen, and she was pacing up and down the netting looking quite stressed.

I checked the nestboxes and found that Ruby was in there, and very broody.  I gently lifted her out, and found four eggs under her - including one from Norm and one from Siouxie.     I felt vry sorry for NotNorman,  so I opened the netting to let them all in together. We were going to be there for a while, and I thought we could see what they all did, and then put them in their respective areas before we left.

The combined area is quite large - most of the length of an allotment, and very wide.   All the Chooks mingled around together.     Eventually curiosity got the better of the Breeding flock, and they all went to explore the Laydees coop.

We then got on and did the chicks.  When we let them out of the shed,  the Establishment lined the netting and just stared.  And stared.  We watched the chicks for ages.  They seemed perfectly at home.  They didn't take any notice at all of the older chickens,  and the oldies eventually got bored and wandered off.

We then decided to do a bee inspection. This was the first time we'd opened the hive since the Incident.   Havin g two of us meant it worked well.  I used the smoker,  and DH lifted the various boxes,  and we both inspected the frames.    We worked as quickly as possible,  our main concern was to see i there were any queen cells.   We saw eggs, brood and stores.

There were a lot of bees, and the noise level rose gradually.    I was pinged a few times, and a couple of bees stung my leather gloves.    We then put the hive back together,  and left the bees.  

They didn't entirely leave us.  A fair few followed us. We waited near the chickens for a bit, some of the bees flew off but a couple were persistent. They weren't pinging us or anything,  but thy didn't want to leave.      We did our finishing up bits,  locked up,  and walked slowly back to the car.  Gradually the number of following bees reduced.  until we only had a couple of persistent ones at the car.

DH did very well. He had been quite nervous (unsurprisingly!) as the inspection progressed,  and it helped that I was there to keep an eye on the bee situation and to give him an objective view on the number of bees and ther their temperament.   I felt quite secure in my bee jacket, especially as I was wearing a cap to protect my forehead from the main weakness of the design.  I was also fortunate in that I had decided to wear leather gloves today instead of Marigolds,  so the stings didn't get through to my hands.

All in all it went well.

I think we'll do our next inspection in the early evening though.  That way the bees will have overnight to calm down.


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