10 January 2014

Rain, rain, go away...

As you may know, the Lake District is blessed with more than it's fair share of rain, and although it has been a mild winter so far, there has been no shortage of precipitation!

It's handy at this time of year to have a few 'wet day jobs' in reserve for when it's just too horrible to work outside, and one such job presented itself this week. 

Although we don't keep bees at Hill Top, we do have a beehive which can be found nestling under a big slate slab built into one of the vegetable garden walls. The alcove created by the slab is known as a 'Bee Bole' and was used in days gone by to keep traditional coiled straw beehives, known as 'Skeps', out of the rain. With the invention of modern waterproof hives, bee boles became redundant but many still survive in old walls around the country. There's even a National Bee Boles Register (of which the one at Hill Top is number 0034), where you can search for ones near you, if you're that way inclined.

Of course the straw skeps which once graced our bee bole are long gone but at some time in the early 1900's a 'modern' hive was put in their place. We know this because we've got a picture of it; it's on page 12 of 'The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck'.

Beehive top left
The view today. I know.....the hive's the wrong way round!

The most recent replacement for the modern hive doesn't quite fit in the bole, and one edge of it is exposed to the weather which means that every few years it needs repainting. I've taken it into my shed to dry it out and the next really wet day we get, I'll sand it down and give it a couple of coats of fresh paint ready for the new season. Funnily enough inside the hive was a small wasps nest, fortunately deserted!

Tiny wasps nest, no wasps!
Incidentally, did you know that the average worker bee makes just one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime of just five to six weeks? and to make a kilo of honey, bees have had to fly on average 90,000 miles?

I've got a few other wet day jobs up my sleeve including the big yearly seed order and various bits of machinery maintenance but I have a lot more 'dry day' jobs so lets hope the weather gods smile on us for the next few months and keep the rain to a minimum.

For my musical link this time, I could have gone for anything by the excellent Swedish band The Hives or maybe something by techno group Nightmares on Wax, but in the end there was only one choice.

And finally a poem by Ogden Nash-

I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife.

Bye for now.

Words and pictures by Pete the Gardener/Beatrix Potter.