The trouble with late night party ducks is that unlike sensible chickens, they like to stay out late. They also quack, alerting any fox in the neighbourhood who then decides to drop into the party...unvited. We unfortunately had a visit from arather large dog fox the other day. The upshot was the very pretty white duck who had unwisely decided to make a nest in the bee garden was eaten, along with her eggs.
We are now down to 11 ducks. The little brown duck who has successfully reared ducklings in the past and is a Good Mother has started a nest close to the greenhouse. Given how often the dogs and people walk along that path, I would be surprised if the fox bothered her.
The bees have been a problem this Spring. At first they seemed to be doing well but were a small colony. Then in the cold April, they appeared to have subcumbed to a bee virus. Small colonies can have this problem. Because of the cold and damp we had not given the usual Spring tonic of apiguard. They were varroa free last autumn when inspected by the Bee Inspector. My son had treated for vrroa just in case in the autumn.
My youngest swore there were no bees left or maybe a small cluster which wasn't viable as he could not find the queen and there was no brood.
I duly ordered a Buckfast queen and her courtiers from Fragile Plant (to arrive early July). My youngest wanted it for his birthday and for a long time both my husband and I have hankered after a Buckfast strain of bees. Buckfast bees were originally bread by Brother Adam, one of the huge star of late 20th century British beekeeping. Besides the garden feels better with bees.
Because of the fox incident, I decided to clean up the bee garden as we no longer had bees. When bees are in reisdence, it is always a very quick in and out as I dislike getting stung. The first day, I noticed one or two but my son swore they were the last remenants. Indeed a day or so later I was able to weed stright up to the hive and was a bit sad as the garden doesn't seem right.
On Friday, I decided to do a bit more weeding. Two bees flew warningly over my head, coming straight from what I presumed was an empty hive. Scouts Guard bees? I beat a hasty retreat. You can by the sound of the buzz what is happening with the bees.
My son swore that there could not be bees there and perhaps it had been some other colony robbing the hive. Because of his exams, he had not gotten around to cleaning up the hive and taking it away.
I went out on Saturday morning. Many more bees and much activity. I stood and watched for awhile, the bees appeared to be taking pollen in. My son swore I was seeing things and even when robbing bees will sometimes have pollen on their legs. Late that evening a few bees remained, guarding the entrance way.
On Sunday, more bees behaving precisely like bees behave around their hive. The bees are a bit lighter in colour than our old bees and the weather has been perfect for swarming. I suspect we have had a swarm take up residence in the empty hive. Because it is May, it will be a large swarm.
Fingers crossed that the bees don't catch the same virus and that they stay.
I also have the Buckfast queen and her courtiers to look forward to in early July.
It is just good to have bees in the garden but the bee garden will remain half weeded!