Hazel nuts grown in North Devon

North Devon Homegrown Hazel Nuts

Today has probably been the first chilly morning, the temperature is beginning to turn. However, it is dry and sunny, so a chance to gather in some of the nuts.

We have a small young nut orchard with cultivated varieties. Primarily, hazel nuts, but also walnuts and sweet chestnuts.

Before Mr & Mrs Squirrel take my hazel nuts, I thought I would get in there first and pick them.

The walnuts and chestnuts aren’t quite ready yet, so will leave them for another day.

Fiesta Eating Apples

Winter Harvest is Underway

This year I have had a varying crop of apples. The Cooking apples aren’t as abundant as normal, but I have some cracking eaters.

These Fiesta apples are really tasty and soooo juicy! A real prize apple!

Honey Bee on ice plant Sedum spectabile 'Iceberg'

Busy Bee

We are having some warm weather at the moment. The sunny warm days are great for the bees allowing them to get out and about to build up their winter stores. Caught this lady foraging on a flowering ‘Iceberg’ (Sedumspectabile ) plant.

Honey Bee on sunflower covered in yellow sunflower pollen with an orange pollen basket

Honey Bee On a Sunflower Covered in Pollen

This little lady was buy yesterday on a late sunflower. Even though it is mid September, some of the sunflowers are still in full bloom, and the bees are all over them. They must be a good source of pollen at this time of year!

Propolis taken from a honey bee hive

Propolis or Bee Glue

This year, the bees seemed to have produced a large amounts of propolis, which has made working the hives quite difficult.

Bees use this to seal up small holes and gaps in the hive. Quite often the small gap between the frames are glued together making inspection a bit harder as the frames have to be unstuck and the propolis scrapped off.

Proplis is a product of bee saliva, wax and tree resins. It is meant to have anti-bacterial and fungal properties and can be found in the use of health and healing products.

This picture was taken on a warm day when the propolis was really sticky and flexible. When colder it can become quite brittle. The picture shows the propolis after I had scrapped it off the top of a frame. The frame was stuck to the crown board (a board that covers the top of the frames).

Honey bees emerging from a capped brood cell

New Bees for the Winter

As we move toward the winter months, the hive is beginning to prepare for the colder weather. Having gathered their honey as winter food to keep them going until the first spring flowers, the winter bees are beginning to emerge.

If you look closely, you can see some bees just poking their heads out of their cell. They are removing the capping from the cell where the egg was laid and they have transformed into a bee. Once emerging they will join the rest of the colony.

These new bees are potentially the bees that will take the colony through the winter until early spring. Winter bees tend to live for 5 months, whereas the bees hatched out in spring and summer live for about 6 weeks!

Marking a Queen Honeybee 2019 is green

Marking the Queen Bee

As the season draws to a close, it gives me a chance to undertake some final checks on the colony and perform some house keeping.

Today was a chance to mark some of this year’s queens. The queen bee is larger than the workers, but is often difficult to find amongst all her daughters. Being able to easily see her speeds up the hive inspection.

Queens are colour coded depending on the year, this helps you remember their age. For 2019 the colour is green.

2019 Marked Queen bee (Green is the colour for 2019) amongst worker bees
2019 Marked Queen bee (Green is the colour for 2019) amongst worker bees
Goose down left behind after a Fox attack in Bickington

Fox Attack & a Goose Killed

Yesterday afternoon one of our geese was killed by a local fox in Bickington.

This year we have now lost to foxes two ducks, a chicken and now a goose. We have not had loses like this for the last 7 years.

Fortunately, each time it has only been a single bird taken, and appears to be an opportunist always attacking in broad daylight in the afternoon. I suspect a young brazen fox, or a parent feeding cubs.

A warning to any other poultry keepers, or small pet owners in the Bickington or Fremington area, be vigilant!

Honey Bee on New Zealand Flax Flower in the UK

Bees are all over our New Zealand Flax Flowers

This year, in our garden (North Devon, UK), the New Zealand Flax’s have sent up some beautiful long flower spikes with small tubular flowers delicately displaying in reds and oranges.

The anthers protrude from the top of the tubular flower. Here the high protein orange coloured pollen can be collected by the bee.

But where the bees seem to spend mot of their time is climbing right into the flower to collect the nectar.

Tail of a Honey Bee poking out of a New Zealand Flax Flower
Tail of a Honey Bee poking out of a New Zealand Flax Flower
Wildflower meadow in Barnstaple

This is what I want, I really really want ….

I have a two acre field, I really want to turn into (revert to?) wildflower meadow. How do you do it? Can anyone help?

It seems really complicated and expensive.

Done the research over a few years and got the facts, just spent £40 on seed! (mixture of perennial and annual from Pictorial Meadows #PictorialMeadows) only does 10 square metres. 2 acres is equivalent to 8,000 square metres …… so at a price of £32,000 …. not really achievable????

A lot of money, but it needs to be done right, so hopefully this autumn we will get started. I then just need to work out how to do it affordably over the next 5 years ….. yes a 5 year project ….

#RHSGardensRosemoor have stared a wild flower meadow, and it is looking good. They are just down the road, if they are reading, perhaps someone could help out, after all we are members. I could pay in honey, vegetables or fruit ….. but I suppose that is coals to Newcastle???

Anyone any thoughts on how we can do this in an environmental way, for little cost, to achieve a native meadow.

Cornflower growing in North Devon
Cornflower growing in North Devon