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Honey Bee Working Hawthorn Flowers

Another May new buds and flowers shall bring

“Another May new buds and flowers shall bring: Ah! why has happiness no second Spring?” – Charlotte Turner Smith

This spring certainly keeps bringing. The weather continues to be fantastic for the bees. The recent rain has been welcome. This enables the plants to draw up water and increase the nectar flow in the flowers.

In turn this ensures the bees supply continues to come.

The hives are still doing well, and the bees continue to build up their honey stores. Hopefully at the end of May, I’ll be able to harvest the first honey crop of 2020

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Honey Bee Flying Toward Apple Blossom

The Best April Ever for Bees?

I’ve been keeping bees for 10 years, and I don’t remember an April like it.

The warm dry weather here in Devon, has definitely benefited the bees. They have been out and about every day. The blossom is flourishing and producing the good stuff …. nectar and pollen.

In the garden, the old apple trees, are buzzing. The buzz from the trees provides a background hum to the whole garden. It literally sounds like a swarm of bees is somewhere settling.

The hives are bursting. The workforce has been busy taking advantage of nature’s bounty.

The bees have been so productive that the hives are filled with honey and I have had to make more room for them to store their harvest.

All I need to do now is manage them from swarming and taking their produce away!

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Wild brood comb in a bee hive

Wild comb

Last year I housed a honey bee swarm I collected from the local area. On returning, I put the swarm into a new hive with about half the intended frames I had to hand. I needed to assemble more and intended to put the remaining frames in the following day.

However, I didn’t get the chance to return to the hive for a couple of days. At this point the colony had drawn wild comb which was hanging from the crown board (the lid on the top of the hive).

In a dilemma, I decided to leave the hive until the following season and sort it out then.

Yesterday, was the day. In the main picture you can see 5 pieces of wild comb. Each of these were packed with brood (growing baby bees).

I took three pieces of the wild comb and attached each piece into a frame using elastic bands (not sure how this will work). I then transferred these to a new hive with new frames. The new hive was put back in the same place as the original hive.

I couldn’t find the queen, but hopefully she was somewhere amongst the existing frames or was brushed off into the new hive as I removed each piece of wild comb.

Now all tidy and manageable, the hive can be easily inspected. Next week, I will go in and see if I can find the queen or evidence that she is still laying.

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Lauder & Smith brick circa 1876

Barnstaple History

We have done a lot of work to the house and the out buildings. Moving a lot of stone, roof tiles and bricks we have discovered all sorts of things, including little pockets of history.

Most of the bricks and roof tiles which were stacked up appeared to have been from outbuildings that had fallen into ruin. Most of the bricks and tiles were unmarked or branded. Interestingly we have found a batch of roof tiles & the odd brick stamped with Lauder & Smith Brick & Tile Works, Barnstaple.

Lauder & Smith Roof Tile circa 1876
Lauder & Smith Roof Tile circa 1876

It turns out this tile works was about 3 miles away from Chilcotts Farm in an area of Barnstaple called Pottington. The pottery was in business for 38 years from 1876 to 1914.

I am guessing the start of the First World War in 1914, was the reason for the demise of the company.

We haven’t researched the age of the property, but we thought it was mid 1800s. The farm house, isn’t built of bricks, but rather a rubble construction with render. I am guessing the Lauder & Smith bricks and tiles were brought in at a later date and used for an outbuilding.

Lauder & Smith brick circa 1876
Lauder & Smith brick circa 1876
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Happbee Easter - Bee themed Easter egg

Happbee Easter!

Happbee Easter!!!!! The bees are doing fab lately.

The fine weather has meant they can get out and gather nectar and pollen. The colonies have built up really well and already very large and storing lots of honey.

Fingers crossed, it is going to be a good year for the bees!

We currently have some of last season’s honey for sale, but currently with lock down, can not sell it 🙁

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Breakfast - Good Friday - homemade jam

Good Friday Breakfast

Even though we are in lockdown, it could be worse! The weather is fantastic! The sun and warmth maybe shining in through the windows, or you have the opportunity to sit outside ….. it could be worse ….. it could be raining!

This morning we sat outside and had a lovely breakfast with homemade jam made with homegrown fruit!

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New beehive all prepared for the new season

Preparing for Season

Spring is gathering momentum, and the spring blossom is beginning to erupt with flower buds bulging and about to explode. The bees are out and about on warm days looking for blossom and sources of water.

I am frantically trying to get prepared. This new hive is ready to hopefully house another colony of bees in the coming months.

I still need to put together loads of frames to replace old wax, but also to allow for expansion and new colonies. Not much time left, but I am sure it will come together and we will be ready.

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Honey Bee on crocus gathering pollen in early spring

Bees are Springing into Action

We have had so much rain in the UK, but North Devon, although wet, seems to have got off lighter than some parts of the country!

In the dryer, warmer spells, the bees have managed to get out and collect pollen. They are returning to the hive with their pollen baskets loaded up with mainly orange and yellow pollen at the moment.

If anyone is interested, I have written a small guide on the colour of pollen and the flowers the bees have been visiting in North Devon. See: https://chilcotts.farm/bees/local-pollen-guide/

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First goose Egg of the year

First Goose Egg of 2020

Last year (2019) we had our first goose egg of the season on 25th February 2019, this year it was today, 26th February!

It’s amazing how nature’s clock is so accurate. It won’t be long before we have a goose eggs for sale (sorry, still local collection only).

I know what I am having for breakfast this weekend! Goose egg and soldiers….. delicious.

Soft boiled goose egg
Soft boiled goose egg. A meal in itself.

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