Current Release

Current Release
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

New hens and bees at Fortnums


There are three new hens in the garden. Two Marans and one CBT. Now the farm labourer at Haydon Bridge Hens called it a Canadian Blacktail but the only reference I can find on the web is to a Columbian Blacktail which is a hybrid between Rhode Island red and Light Sussex plus some other hardy birds. Waitrose sells a lot of CBT eggs. So whether this is the same bard or a similar cross I can't tell but it is pretty. The hens are generally just known by their breed so it makes it easier not o be attached to them. They seem to be settling in well, but it remains to be seen if the old French Maran does her usual trick of guarding the hen house and forcing the hens to have alternate roosts. This in turn forces me and my eldest to pluck various sleeping hens off hedges and low growing branches and put them in the hen house. After about a week of the game, the Maran tires and the hens become one flock.


According to the Telegraph, Fortnums has installed several very posh beehives on the top of their store. They have kept bees since 2006, but this is the frist year, they have had had them installed on the top of the store. They are charging £10 per half pound jar. There is a waiting list. I suspect the honey will be excellent (not because of the beehive) but because they are in a mixed flower area with lots of flowering trees. There is also a webcam so you can observe the comings and goings of the bees.

They are using Greek bees which are very non aggressive. Greek bees tend to be good producers of honey. At the moment there is a move back toward the native English black bee as being more ecologically sound but personally I have no problem with Greek bees as that is what is we had for awhile.

The main thing is to get non aggressive bees. Luckily, my current hive is beautifully tempered, despite the run in with the puppies earlier this summer. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be getting any honey this summer as the hive was only installed at the end of June and July was a very patchy month weather wise. The colony though is doing well and I saw the queen bee on Sunday. She has a bright yellow spot.

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