|Our local badgers: Out and about in daylight at this time of year.|
I must admit, I do love the heatwave we're having here at the moment. It's true there are downsides, for example, I'm concerned about local wildlife as natural sources of water dry up, so I'm constantly topping up bird baths and putting out extra trays of water to help visiting creatures. Another downside is that the garden has become very dry and dusty (although it does tend to look tired in July anyway when it loses the freshness of early summer). But even if the garden isn't looking its best - it's a lovely place to be in the evenings when the temperature has cooled down a little and the sun is setting, because then it's filled with beautiful scents.
I have one of my favourite plants for scent - honeysuckle - all over the smallholding and by the house. It's been planted in our new hedges, it climbs up the house and the new barn and it's also right by the back door entwined with roses...
I've also planted jasmine outside the back door and next to the summer house and the scent of the flowers is stunning. Other scents include lavender in the herb bed and the scents from the evening primroses. These are really weeds, but they have a fabulous scent at dusk. There are strong scents, too, from the roses climbing over the pergola (before the house) and the flowers in the baskets by the front door...
I also love this time of day outside because I get to see wildlife, like our local badgers, that I don't usually see when the evenings are darker. These wonderful, shy creatures have taken a while to trust people here, and it's a real privilege that they do so now...
I've also had surprise visitors in the house, like this moth that appeared in the kitchen because the doors and windows are wide open. After learning a bit from some terrific moth posts on other people's blogs I'm going to ID it as one of the hawk moths. But I wonder if moth experts can help - could it be a Privet Hawkmoth?
Collecting a Swarm of Bees
I'm looking at my bees in the evenings at the moment because it's too hot to wear the bee suit in full sun. Early one evening about four weeks ago there was a surprise in the apiary when I discovered a swarm clustering near one of my hives. I knew they couldn't be mine - instead they were visiting bees that were probably attracted to an area where other bees had already settled.
The bees had clustered quite high up in a hedge and so I needed a ladder - and some help to collect them. I called David and persuaded him to climb the ladder with a cardboard box (the idea is that all the bees are knocked in one go into this from the branch they're clinging to). Meanwhile, I held the ladder at the bottom. As I was doing this, I remembered that the bee-books warn you that cardboard boxes don't always hold the weight of thousands of the bees and they often suddenly fall through the bottom in one lump.
It was very possible I could have had thousands of bees emptying over my head...
|A local swarm of bees (this one is very high up in a tree)|
So; I was dreading a shower of bees all over me, but - fortunately - it didn't happen, because they were clinging fast to their branch (and each other). It actually took three or four shakes to dislodge them and, after each shake, some were brought down the ladder in the box. On the ground below, I'd placed an empty hive with an old bed sheet spread out in front - and one end of this was tucked into the entrance of the hive. The bees were gently tipped onto the sheet and then I sat down among them and slowly steered them up into the hive.
It was an amazing thing to do; the bees had obviously filled themselves up with honey before they left their previous home because they were very docile. Although I wore a suit for protection just in case, these bees weren't in a stinging mood and it was possible to sit in the middle of thousands of them without being buzzed. The whole experience was very calming.
It's vital to make sure that the queen is there - the bees will only stay if she is. If not, they'll all fly back to her. I didn't see her, but as the bees were happy to stay in the hive, I knew she was about. I moved the hive to a new spot the next day and the latest news is that the new queen is laying very well and the colony is happily settled in its new home. I might even get some honey from them this year!
And last of all I love the golden light in summer evenings as the sun sets. Here it is shining on our latest carved fence-post warrior (this one is guarding the honesty box out the front!)