I am recovering from a mild bout of walrus flu, which is a bit like man flu but heavier. I still ache like I’m 80, but today the sun is shining and life is for living, so what to do? I decided to wash my cars. This is therapy for me. Yes, I’m weird, but who isn’t? I find that getting the old pressure washer out at giving the walrus wagons a good scrub works wonders. I get a similar thing from going on mad cupboard tidying sprees, but these take longer and nobody can see your gleaming kitchen cabinets, whereas they can see your gleaming cars. What a shallow creature I have become.
I have a little sports car with two seats and a 3.0 litre flat 6 engine which doesn’t get driven much, but today I thought I’d take her out for a blast. The battery was running low so it needed a run out, and so, thought I, why not head over to High Legh to see my apiary? I don’t know why but when I drive my other car, which has more seats and a diesel engine, progress is generally serene. However, in the sports car suddenly I’m surrounded by Grand Prix race drivers in their BMWs and Volkswagens, and they all want to zoom past me to prove what Grand Pricks they really are. C’est la vie.
Anyway, upon arrival at the farm house by my bees, home to a wonderful couple who have always let me have bees on their land, I had a good stretch, took a large lungful of the fresh country air (bliss), and marched purposefully to the corner of the field that is my own little haven of happiness. Cleaning my cars, driving the Porsche, and seeing my bees on a sunny day – it doesn’t get much better than that. I wasn’t there to do anything much, just see them flying and check on the three wasp traps I’d set up yesterday.
I was overjoyed to see how busy my bees were and perhaps a little too ecstatic to see just how effective my new wasp bane traps are. Each of the three traps had caught plenty of wasps, many of whom were sunk in a syrupy grave, and more importantly I could see no wasps hassling my bee hives. Perhaps the respite from wasp attacks was the reason for the exuberant activity at the entrance to every one of my colonies, including the nucleus colonies that had been having a hard time. They were bringing in great loads of yellow pollen and there were still plenty of white stripe mowhawks (explanation here) so the balsam must be working its magic. I could almost hear the bees singing happy songs as they got on with their winter preparations.
The pollen will be used for rearing brood, some now and plenty in the spring. They will start rearing brood next year before many plants are in flower, so the stored pollen collected in the Autumn is really important. The first significant pollen in the Spring for my bees is from willow trees. And then the whole thing kicks off again. Most pollen is some shade of yellow, including balsam, but at some times of year they bring in some beautiful colours – red, deep orange, purple – all sorts. I have a book which lists all the main types of pollen and it shows the times of year that it is normally around. This gives me a hint as to what the bees are foraging but the only sure way is to analyse the pollen under a microscope. Pollen grains are beautiful (see image) and each type of pollen has a different shape.
So, what a therapeutic day to help me feel better after my illness. Thanks bees!