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Archive for December, 2008

Artichoke is…nom, nom, nom…very good, nom, nom. Can’t type – eating… nom, nom, nom.

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Our first ever artichoke

pc2200061This is the first artichoke I’ve ever grown and as soon as I google it, and find out how, it will be the first we have ever eaten.  Yee Harrr!

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Here in Melbourne we are having the wettest December on record.  It started raining hard at 6pm last night and now at 8am the next morning it is still pouring. We have a dodgy roof which really comes into its own when it pours.  Woke up to find that our hot water heater had flooded, wooden dining table swelling up in a pool of water and a number of books ruined where rain has leaked onto my desk – oh well – our tanks are now full.

On the other hand the garden is looking lush and green and the Bastard Snail Army (BSA) is thriving – dam theirpc0900462 little slimy selves.  Chickens are over the rain and are campaigning for a return to drought conditions, both are looking very draggled and sorry for themselves.

Wanted to plant more climbing beans this weekend but it will be too wet for seeds to germinate before rotting.  Looks like this will be an indoor sewing weekend rather than gardening time.

Dam it! I can see the weeds growing from my desk window.  They love the rain more than anyone.

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It was a sunny day with no wind, apparently the best weather for opening a hive to check on bees, as most of the bees should be out collecting with only a few returning home at a time.

With a lump in my throat I get into my white bee suit.  Checking and obsessively re-checking to make sure all the gaps are closed and that the suit isn’t too tight anywhere – bees can still sting through the suit if they are very unhappy.

Re-reading the instructions I light the smoker and send out a morse of experimental smoke – dear…gods… keep..me..safe.. from….bee…stings.

Walking up to the hive I puff a little smoke in through the hive entrance to calm the bees, thinking, should I inhale, will it calm me down too?  I’ve been told that bees know when you are scared and are more likely to sting (though between you and I – I tend to think that this is Bee Whisperer mumbo jumbo).

As I lifted the lid off the hive the aroma of honey was heady and the humming rush of bees towards my face slightly terrifying.  I puffed more smoke into the hive and the bees dispersed – or so I thought – looking up I could see hundreds of little bee bums pointing their stings at me through the grill of my mask.  OMG was this a good idea?

I decided to remove just one frame from the hive before I chickened out totally.  Moving slowly and carefully to ensure that the, mad bee bum army, couldn’t reach me through the grill. I lifted out a frame.  It was covered in bees and some of the cells were dark with brood.  As scared as I felt, watching the bees up close and in such a large numbers, was a mesmerizing sight – like watching the ocean swarm and sway.  As captivating as the bees were by this point I felt that I had been as brave as I dared. I returned the frame to the hive and closed the lid.

I knew that in theory as I walk away from the hive the bees should leave me and return home.  I started to move away, puffing a cloud of smoke to move them along. Gradually they disengaged and headed back.  When finally I was alone I went back inside and took off the suit.  I rolled off my gloves and removed my mask.  Then as I lifted off my suit top, one remaining bee stung me in the throat – yowl!  That hurt like hell!

It was an awesome experience.  I am sorry to lose a bee but I think the swarm let me off lightly.  A few new-by mistakes but that was my first close encounter with the swarm.

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