Bee(f) farming*

* or apiculture (the culture of apes)

Dad and I took an outing yesterday to collect a swarm of bees.  What better way to undertake some father-daughter bonding when you only own one bee suit (which I rocked) meaning that when bees are present, the other person has to stay a sensible distance away from said bee-suited individual.  Clearly, we'll have to repurpose one of Farmer Humph's sun hats by glamorously draping a veil over it...

Watching bees settling into the weird, insect-dripping organism that is a resting swarm is fascinating.  This swarm was in the two castes pictured above.  We knocked the bees from their resting place into a box, swept up some of the remainders, and returned close to sunset to transport the box back to the farm.

The father-daughter bonding ended slightly at this point when my driving was classified as "too bumpy" for the bees...this from a man who swerves around potholes at the last-minute.  But, we all survived the journey and the bees are over-nighting in an idyllic spot overlooking the river, pasture and apple blossom.  Hopefully the pampered bees will decide to stay and long may the father-daughter bonding continue!

Feed the Birds

 Here at the Lower Dairy Farm Gull Sanctuary, we've been busy feeding the birds.

But where do they come from?  And how do they know?  Are there gull scouts?  Here's my first furrow after lunch:

...and half an hour later:

According to the RSPB:
"Because winds are stronger at higher altitudes - so less energy-expending flapping is required - gulls are often thousands of feet in the air.  From such a vast height, and by using their keen eyesight, they have an excellent all-round view for many miles around. This allows them to exploit potential feeding opportunities very quickly."

Mystery solved.

Once upon a time, Farmer Humph very nearly ran over a gull; but that's a story I'm saving for another day.

Hedgerows Anonymous

I am a plant geek, so this ash shoot caught my eye whilst out chasing rabbits with Humbug.  As you can imagine, Humbug is always delighted when I stop to take pictures of trees.  Now I know this twig's location, I'll be monitoring the progress of the multiple buds (known as 'fasciation') through 'til summer.  Don't worry, I'll keep those photos for my personal collection. One of my favourite things at this time of year is the reappearance of tiny pink hazel flowers in the hedgerows.  The showy, male catkins are easy to spot, but look closely, and you will find pink female flowers concealed in the buds.Humbug is again, underwhelmed, but when it is grey, muddy, windy or pelting with hail, look out for these pretty little flowers, they're a sign spring is getting closer!

Watch out...

...there's a Dodo about.  It is the only explanation, and my use of an average chicken egg proves it.  So, twitchers, come and discover the Stour Valley's best kept secret: the Island Nation of Wiston's Dodo Colony.

NB. Please refrain from calling the dodos 'oversized pigeons', it makes them angry.