Hive Mind, Excellent Insect Repellent & Where Does The Time Go?

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 29th July 2017

Hive Mind

I had another one of those ‘never-forget-it’ experiences last week.  I must admit that I am pretty lucky and have quite a substantial ‘never-to-be–forgotten’ memory bank and this is now at the forefront.

After collecting a swarm of bees from a local car park with my fabulous ‘bee mentor’, we brought them back to the cottage to be re-hived. Normally I shake the box quickly into the hive, as taught.  It has never really appealed to me that much as it feels a bit drastic, shaking 50,000 bees into their new home. Mentioning that to my ever-patient bee mentor, he said, “No problem, we’ll get them to walk in tonight.”



We put a white sheet over a wooden ramp leading up to the hive entrance, tipped the box of bees (about 60,000 including the Queen) onto the sheet and waited as dusk fell.  Slowly, very slowly at first, a few of the bees started to walk toward the hive entrance, then miraculously before my very (unbee-lieving eyes) the rest of the ‘pile’ slowly followed in an impressively orderly fashion. It took about 30 minutes in all, but every single bee walked up the ramp and into their new hive. It is an amazing thing to watch and especially as it is all so orderly and organised.

I haven’t been able to find out any scientific reason why they do this but it is believed that the act of walking through the entrance allows them to ‘take ownership’ of their new home as they would had they chosen the home themselves.  And that’s a good enough reason for me.

I just hope I have enough memory storage for all these wonderful experiences!

Excellent Insect Repellent

For the last couple of years, since visiting Damanhur, in Italy, I have struck a deal with any resident wasps.  The Damanhurans believe that insects understand ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and will react accordingly.  (Ants are also supposed to respond well to being told to leave a property). So I have told them that as long as they don’t sting or intimidate me, Yogi the dog or visitors they can stay. But the moment they break this contract then I will destroy their nest and any other nest I find.  Sounds harsh, bonkers and unlikely maybe, but it has worked.  And if something works then that’ll do for me, whatever other people think.

For the last few years I have always had a wasp’s nest in or around the tool shed, a shed I use daily.  And I have always read them, and reminded them of, the riot act (see previously) and as yet, no one has been stung here at the cottage. And neither have I been stung in work – although most of the other lads (the non-believers) have been.

It is, however, a different story with horse flies – either they don’t understand English or they are more militant.

But I have another deterrent for them. For years it was a best kept secret of the SAS, serious fishermen and wise horse owners as it deters mosquitoes, midges, flies and horse flies. It is Avon’s Skin So Soft Dry Body Oil, and it has to be the original formula. Not such a well kept secret anymore but still as effective.

Where Does The Time Go?

Pfffft.  August next week already; hard to believe. I have noticed that people with ‘little people’ in education, be they children or grandchildren, always split the year up into term time and holidays, and seem to have much more awareness of the month we are in.  Me?  Hopeless – I look at the weather and conclude it could be March, August or October, so often have to check the status of tree canopies and what stage the leaves are at; and even that is getting more and more tenuous each year as the seasons change.

The Anglo Saxons used to call August, Weod Monath, meaning ‘weed month’, because it was the month where weeds (and other plants) grew the most rapidly.  I don’t think that’s the case any more either.  I think most of the growth is put on in June and July, as my garden is testament to. If only my brassicas grew as quickly as my brambles do.

I have been quite ruthless and cut a lot of perennials back, hoping for a second flush of blooms – some will, some won’t; but that is the nature of gardening.

Slightly more random facts about next month include August was the 18th most common name given to a baby boy in Denmark last year.

In 2009 the Icelandic Naming Committee declared August unacceptable as a child’s name. Augustus is also not allowed.

And if the first week of August be warm, then winter will be white and long. 

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