Incredible.

The weather last week was uniformly awful.  On Friday in particular, it kept raining, then stopping, but still with heavy-looking clouds above, yet the BBC weather forecast said that on Saturday and Sunday, it would be utterly gorgeous.

“Yeah.  Right!” We thought.

But they were right!

Saturday dawned clear and bright, and there was barely a cloud in the sky.

Quick!  Shorts on!  Get down to The Plots!

So yesterday a day of planting.

Jordan, who’d not been down in a while, came down, so after clearing a bed of leaf mold, we got stuck in, planting cabbages.

Now Sara had planted these some time ago in small trays in the greenhouse.

“How many did you plant?” I asked at the time.Cabbages!

“Errr..  All of them.”

Many, many trays of about five different types!

Still, no worries.  Down here at LEAF, we love cabbages!

To the right here are just some of the trays of them.

Now, with the weather being so ace, and with these getting more than a little pot-bound, they really had to go out, so we all got stuck into clearing the long bed for them to go in.

And when they were all done and dusted, complete with safety-netting to keep the ever-hungry pigeons off, this is what they looked like:-Planted!

The netting is some cheap stuff we bought from a ‘Pound Shop’ last year, and surprisingly, it seems to hold up pretty well.

The white ‘hoops’ we found in a skip a few years ago, but these are actually indoor cable conduits from places like Wickes or B&Q.

I’ve recently been to B&Q, and they’re still only a matter of a few pounds each, and make a great way to keep the pigeons out.

Whacking the ends of the hoops into the ground is no problem either.

We have some long metal rods -the kind used by road workers, so one of these, ably assisted by a few good whacks from ‘Sister Sledge’, and you have a hole deep enough for the end of the hoops.  A quick wiggle with the metal rod to both loosen it and make the hole a slightly larger diameter for the conduit, and the end will go as deep as the hole.

Sorted!

With so many volunteers turning up yesterday, little Mitzi-Moos was in her element.Mitzi-Moos

All these people to feed her and fuss her!

At lunch, cheese was on the menu, and Mitzi loves cheese.  Even though we don’t generally feed her at the table, various volunteers surreptitiously bent down, and happened to have a piece of cheese in their fingers, which Mitzi happened to see and snatch.

Bless!

The afternoon seemed to blur for me.  I know I was really busy, being called from one job to another, but I can’t for the life of me quite remember what I did.  All I can say is that unlike some sunny days, there was no sitting around drinking tea, enjoying the sunshine.  We didn’t have the time!  With the weather having been so uniformly awful of late, we were well behind getting the site ready and getting stuff planted.

Jon and I agreed that at five o’clock, we’d go into all our beehives and give them a thorough check over.Jordan in my bee suit

When I told Jordan we were going in the hives, he asked to be there when we went in.

Now normally, this wouldn’t be a problem -we have ‘junior’ bee suits for a younger volunteers, however, we’ve lent them all out while early June for another project to use while teaching a ‘starter course’, so unfortunately, Jordan couldn’t come up close.

However, as you can see from this photo to the left here, that didn’t stop him trying on my bee suite for size!

Maybe a little big right now, but give him another ten years, and he may grow into it!

Jon mentioned that the Sheffield Beekeeping Association had had reports of hives already swarming this year, so we were anxious to check ours out for signs of swarming.

As I’ve previously said, swarms don’t pose any threat to the local population whatsoever.  When bees swarm, they are that full of honey and nectar, it’s like you or I just having had two Sunday roasts, one after the other.  They’re that full, they can’t be bothered to sting!

No, the greatest threat with swarming is that you lose half your hive, which puts a serious dent in your honey production for the season!Close-up of a frame

This shot here to the right was expertly taken by Diane, and shows nectar being stored in cells -towards the top of the shot.  You can see it glistening in the bottom of the cells.

It also shows capped stores towards the centre and right of the photo, but also shows new, uncapped brood down towards the bottom left of the shot.  They’re the small white ‘worms’ curled up in the bottom of the cells.

Just above these cells are those of ‘capped’ brood.

In just a few days, these will emerge as the next generation of worker bees.

Jon and I went through all four hives -the ‘nuc’, and the three ‘full’ hives, and thankfully found no queen cells present.

This means that for this week at least, we are safe -they’re not going to swarm just yet!

Anyway, on that note I must leave it for now, unfortunately.

BUT, there’ll be loads more very soon as we prepare for our Open Day / AGM in less than four weeks time.

You can expect many shots of happy volunteers, puddling clay for the oven, and all other manner of fun down at The LEAF Plots!

(Ed: The above is merely what I did yesterday.  With so many volunteers doing so many things, I couldn’t keep track of all they were doing, so I’ve just told you what happened in my vicinity!)

 

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