Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Clashes, and the bees make a plan

So it was the morning of the next day, which was the day of Sunday. Straight out to see if the bees were gone. No, they weren't. Those that we had not got into the box were clustered round the bottom of the rabbit cages, and those we had got into the box were still in the box because the morning dew had dampened the box lid so it was not now sealed, but had a gap through which we could see nothing but bees, possibly keeping a watchful eye in case we decided to try to organise them again.

So we regrouped over tea and toast, and decided that it was not fair to split the swarm as we had done last night, but to get the swarm members all back together again so that they could then decide what it was they wanted to do. In truth, we hoped that they would b*******r off. We were tired. We were not happy beekeepers. We just wanted Sunday to be a lazy, do nothing day, which was silly of us because after all we are smallholders, which means that we don't get days off unless we collapse on to the bed with exhaustion, which I have to admit sometimes happens.

So back outside we went, and Lester carried the box of bees, at arms length and with a very hurried stride, back to the others, who were by now starting to fly about. Some bees flew out of the box to mix and mingle with the others. And soon we could see that they were developing a plan.....

......which was to build a bridge of bees, this bridge being made by the ones who had not been got into the box the previous night and who had parked themselves on the inside roof of the rabbit hutch after having first made a pow wow cluster in the corner of the hutch.
And now, Tuesday, this is the box:

...everyone is nice and calm. All are tucked up in the box, with enough of a gap in the top of the box to get in and out. And tonight, in an hour or so, the bees are to be transferred into their new hive. It has been a hectic few days.

Orpy Junior. October 20th 2012

And now here is a strapping young cockerel boy. How proud he stands, coming into his prime, full of energy to see to the hen girls.

But look at him now, because sometime during last night he must have had a tremendous battle with the white cockerel boy, because when they were let out, this is what we saw.

For all of the day Orpy junior has skulked away in corners, and here he is, at the bottom of the hole which is one day going to be a pond. And it brings a sadness upon us, because he has been a good cockerel but now he has the look of defeat upon him, and his spirit is broken. He will be dead soon. And here is an oddness, because yesterday we went to investigate a ram for our sheep girls. And there, over in the corner of the small chicken run, was the most glorious of cockerel boys which Lester said just had to be purchased. But I said that we would then have too many cockerels, which would be too much for our hennies. And Lester said that it was time for Orpy junior and the white cockerel to go because their genes were now in the flock, and for the health of the flock new blood should be introduced. It looks like nature has sorted this out for us.

And here is the white cockerel:

....he should be pure white.......and he does not want to come in to the courtyard but is remaining by himself out near the pig paddocks. It looks like those two cockerel boys have bashed the very life out of each other, and neither is the winner. As I say, nature is strange sometimes, and it looks like the new cockerel boy is to take the place of these two.
It with sadness that I see the state of these two boys. Orpy junior has been a good cockerel, looking after the hens like a real gentleman. And the white cockerel is the one who grew up big and strong by raiding the tomatoes in the veg plot last year. Ah well, life moves on........


Marie said...

They are lovely photos of the swarm. Is the swarm from your own hives? It seems so early to swarm, is this typical of your region? I have never had swarms before July, they are always slow to build up in Spring

Vera said...

Marie, apparently our bees swarmed early because we have just had a very mild winter with hardly any temperatures below zero C. We are in the south west of France and on a parallel to the Mediteranean so our temperatures are quite mild, although our close proximity to the Pyrenees mountains can make for some overnight temperature drops while the sun during the day pushes the temperatures up quite high sometimes. It would seem that this suits our bees and encourages them to swarm!

Kev Alviti said...

Next year I'm going to have to get some bees - it's natural progressions for a smallholder! More than one cockeral is always trouble, either with noise or with fighting. Boys will be boys is no excuse for a fight to the death though!

Vera said...

Kev, bees are lovely to have around providing you see them as little creatures in their own right. Despite this latest argument with ours, our enthusiasm for keeping bees remains as strong as ever.

Jaana said...

Hi Vera
I've now read all your post and really love your style - living and writing. Hope you solon are in full Modo to write foten again. I don' t have own blog yet, living in Sweden since 1978 originally from Finland. Take care Jaana

Vera said...

Jaana, hello and thankyou for visiting my blog. Let me know when you are writing a blog and I shall be one of your first followers. Vx