|Supporting our boys in the Blue, Black and White!|
Bath winger Anthony Watson was playing in the British and Irish Lions game against the New Zealand All Blacks on Saturday morning (in New Zealand), so I headed down to my local pub with Nev - the bees' landlord - to watch the game. It was jolly good fun - even though we lost.
Earlier in the week I got chatting to Nev, and his wife Gill, about my little spider incident last week. It seems the one I encountered last week is not alone - Nev and Gill's garden has a small storage bunker and a number of false widows are living inside.
I don't feel anywhere near brave enough to look in Gill & Nev's bunker, but I did need to tackle the false widow living inside hive number 2. Unfortunately, Nev wasn't free after the rugby to assist. Regular reader and local arthropod wrestler Stew wasn't available either. So, after some persuasion, fellow arachnophobe Amelia stepped in.
Fully suited up, and with additional gaffer tape to reinforce the weak spots, we nervously approached the hive. Amelia had the job of looking for anything that scuttled, while I carefully removed the "lifts" - the boxes that form the zig-zag outer wall of the hive. One by one I lifted them off the hive, as Amelia confirmed that each was clear of any spidery threat.
However, the brood box at the bottom of the hive was a different story. Among the loose cobwebs was a distinct tunnel of tightly woven silk, and I could see a dark shadowy shape within. I'd located my enemy. It was time for the final showdown. I did what, frankly, any sane person would do - I grabbed my hive tool, and smacked it several times until I was sure that it was well and truly dead. Beekeeper 1, evil hellspawn 0.
I tried to pull apart the silk tunnel to see the spider inside, but my ninja death blow had been too powerful for much to survive, apart from legs and some mashed abdomen. It seemed smaller than last week when it had issued its fateful challenge. But I'm sure that's just an illusion...
The spider having been comprehensively defeated, I turned my attention to beekeeping. It was an incredibly busy week, as the bees have hit their population peak in both hives. Here I am, right in the thick of it:
I am pleased to say I have two items of very good news to report. Firstly, the Blue Nucleus is transformed! If you've been keeping up with events, you'll know that last week I changed 4 of the 5 frames of comb, to deal with a suspected outbreak of Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus. This week, the colony is looking great - active, determined and in a very gentle mood. The bees had drawn out comb on all the new frames, too - they've clearly been very industrious this week. I took out the last frame of old comb (and burned it) and replaced it with fresh, so all 5 frames in the nucleus are new now.
The second bit of good news is the queen in hive number one. She is now laying! Clearly the warm weather this week has put her in an - ahem - "enthusiastic" mood for mating...! Also, I owe her an apology - last week I described the poor lass as a "runt". Well, I got a good look at her yesterday, and I think I must have misidentified her when I looked last week, because this was not the same bee. She is, in fact, a lovely-looking queen, with a quite magnificent butt. I think she will do well.
One final thought - I now have three laying queens, and all of them are currently un-marked. That means that I need to mark them - and, more importantly, name them! Regular readers will know that I always name my queen bees after scientists and engineers. I already have one name picked out, but there are two more to select - if you have a suggestion, please put it in the comments section!