Archive for Bees

Visit to The Eden Project in Cornwall

Last week we went down to Cornwall for a few days to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary (25 years).  The main reason for choosing Cornwall was to visit the Eden Project, which was something I had wanted to do for ages.

Upon leaving the car parks and walking down through the entrance the first thing that hits you is the view of the Biomes.  They are big and really impressive.DSC03203

We headed straight for the Rainforest Biome. DSC03208

It was humid and full of mature trees and plants.  I particularly liked the red flowers of the Pineapple Ginger.DSC03211

We walked up to the higher paths of the canopy. DSC03215

We crossed the rope bridge but it was a bit wobbly!DSC03213

After leaving the Rainforest Biome we headed for the Mediterranean Biome.  I liked the terracotta pots of flowers.DSC03218

And some beautiful Lillies.DSC03219

I posed by some pink Bougainvillia.DSC03221

There were some deep russet flowers in the Australian section.DSC03222

Outside were some lovely flower beds and I spotted a bee in a scabia.DSC03225

A large wicker bee took us by surprise.DSC03206

But then we spotted  a metal butterfly.DSC03244

The deep purple poppies were really gorgeous.DSC03238

For an extra £30 you can have a go on the zip wire but that’s not for me!.DSC03245

We were also lucky with the weather in that it was a warm day and we managed to escape the rain.

The Eden project has many different areas to see and is well worth a visit.

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We have some honey for honey cake

Neil recently took some honey from a well established bee hive, so for the first time for a long time we have some honey.  Here he is with our friend Emma in their bee suits after moving some bees.

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So I decided to make a honey cake as I’d not made one for a long time, here is the recipe.

HONEY CAKE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 170g/6oz clear honey
  • 140g/5oz butter
  • 85g/3oz light muscovado sugar (or I have used dark brown coconut sugar)
  • eggs, beaten
  • 200g/7oz self raising flour, sieved (I used wholemeal self raising flour)
  • water

Preparation method

1.      Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3 and butter and line the bottom of a 7in/18cm cake tin.

2.      Measure the honey, butter and sugar into a large pan. Add a tablespoon of water and heat gently until melted.

3.      Remove from the heat and mix in the flour.

4.      When fully mixed, add the beaten eggs and mix well

5.      Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and shrinking slightly from the sides of the tin.

6.      Cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.

7.      If required you can make icing as follows:

For the icing

8.      While the cake is still warm, make the icing by mixing the sugar and honey together with 2-3 teaspoons of hot water. Trickle over the cake.  This dries as a honey crust on the cake.

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My cake was very dark brown because of the dark brown coconut sugar I used.  It made a really delicious cake.

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Guests at our B&B get offered tea and cake if they arrive in the afternoon, so if you want to try our honey cake come and stay with us. http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Collecting the Honey

It was the right time to year for Neil to collect the honey from his strongest hive.  He had put 3 supers on to give them plenty of room to store the honey.  But when he looked they had only filled the frames in 2 supers.  He donned his new all-in-one suit to collect the frames.

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(That’s shadow on his face, he has not grown a moustache!!)

Yesterday we set to spinning the frames.  First he uncapped them one by one.

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Then two at a time he put them in the spinner. Centrifugal force pushes the honey out and it is collected in large jar below, first going through a sieve to collect any wax.

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It’s wonderful to see the golden liquid collecting in the jar.

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Then it has to be poured into jars and weighed to get exactly one pound in weight that is 454g.  That was my job.

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We got quite a haul.  The jars are just waiting for their labels to be printed and then we will be ready to sell some.  It will be £6.00 a jar.  Don’t forget this is an expensive premium product, not mass produced, hence the cost. All proceeds go back into care of the bees.

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visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Bees in the roof

The men have been working on redoing the whole roof, with new timbers and insulation (that we never had before) and relaying the tiles and slates.  However near one of the chimneys they discovered a number of bees, so Neil and Harry Pym ( the boss of the builders) donned bee suits and went up the ladders to investigate.  Neil removed tiles and found a fully formed bees nest with combs they had built themselves. They had been there some time as Neil could tell from the colour of the combs.  It would appear they had built the comb into an old chimney flue.

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He smoked the bees to pacify them and then gradually started removing the comb they had built and putting it into frames and into a hive.

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Of course there were lots of bees buzzing around all the time and Neil just hoped he had captured the queen and put her into a frame in the hive, so the other bees would follow. In spite of this neither Neil nor Harry got stung.

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He got a good view from on top of the roof.

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Neil took the frames and put them into a hive at the bottom of the garden, complete with their stores, so they have some food to keep them going, but he also put a feeder in with some sugar syrup solution as extra feed.  On a sunny day we have seen some bees coming and going so we are hoping that the hive will take and be strong to see through the winter.

In the meantime the men have now finished the roof.  It looks lovely and straight and secure.  Here they are putting in the roofing felt and insulation.

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Then finishing off the lead around the chimney.

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The roof looks really good now and is not only straight but probably good for the next 150 years!

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We should be warm and toasty with the new insulation and hopefully the bees are too in their new hive.  We shall have to watch them carefully to see they make it through into the Spring.

The B&B is still open at the moment, but will have to close temporarily in the New Year when the work to put a new supporting steel comes into my kitchen and causes lots of disruption.

see us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Free-bees and honey too!

Neil is a swarm contact for the Taunton Beekeepers and last week he took a phone call from a lady in Wambrook near Chard, who said she had a hive of bees she wanted to get rid of.  They had belonged to her Father in Law and he had become indisposed and was no longer able to care for them.  They were near the house and her daughter was afraid to go into the garden because of them.  So Neil duly went over to investigate and what he found was a strong hive of bees and a super full of frames of honey.  It was really heavy so he brought back the super first and then went back for the brood box and then put the hive back together down by our woods.

Next he put an excluder on so the bees could vacate the honey rich super but not get back in.  Then in the evening he went down to remove the honey heavy frames and bring them up to the house.

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Yesterday we extracted the honey from the frames.  First Neil uncapped the frames.

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Then we put 2 frames at a time into the honey spinner, where centrifugal force means the honey is flung out of the frames into the spinner.  Neil put a drill on the handle to get it to spin faster than if we turned it by hand.

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We then opened the tap at the bottom and let the honey flow out through a sieve to catch any wax and into a honey bucket.

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Of course we got a bit sticky in the process and had to keep licking our fingers!!!  Mmmm – delicious.

The cappings we put into a strainer bag and let the honey from them drip through.

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The last job was to pour the strained honey into jars.  We just did a few today, and gave a jar each to our 2 neighbours and one to a friend. We shall take a jar to the lady who gave us the bees.  I’m not sure we will have loads of it but it is gorgeous and viscous and quite dark and of course to us it was free!

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If you want honey on your toast at our B&B visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Bees in a box!!

Neil got a call from BT to say that bees had got into one of their roadside connection boxes, and the engineer had beat a hasty retreat and requested some help.  So today Neil packed up all his equipment that he might need for capturing bees and met up with the BT engineer and drove to this isolated location where the box was.  When he arrived it was not immediately apparent where the box was as it was surrounded and almost hidden by blackberry bushes. This is Sam the BT engineer with the box.

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Neil then donned his bee suit and wellies and looked further into the cabinet.  This is what he saw:

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Neil thought this was a large swarm and fired up his trusty smoker and gave them several puffs of smoke.  When the bees started to move it was apparent that they had been there for some while as they had started to produce comb with sealed nectar stores. This made it a bit more awkward as he had originally planned to brush them down into a large cardboard box that had a sheet in it. The plan changed to using a paint scraper to dislodge the wax comb and drop them into his small nuc box hive.  Due to the size of the swarm he took the five frames out of the box and deposited the bees and their comb into it.  He then brushed the remainder of the bees from the back of the box and removed any outstanding comb.

He sealed the nuc box up and brought it back home.  The BT box was closed back up and the hole where there had been a missing screw was sealed to stop bees getting back inside.

Back home he emptied the bees into a full size hive and gave them a feeder with one to one solution of syrup (water and sugar).  They are getting used to their new home and are taking down the syrup and will hopefully start drawing out new comb on the brood frames in his hive.

Maybe we will get some honey after all this year!!

 

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Visit to Barrington Court

On Monday afternoon, grabbing a sunny few hours, we decided to visit Barrington Court, which is a National Trust house not far from us here.

On approaching the house there was a meadow full of sorrel and other wild flowers.

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Neil was pleased to see that in a wild spot of the grounds there were several bee hives.

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The house is empty of furniture at the moment but in June and July the BBC will be filming here, so they will be kitting it out with their own props.  They will be filming “Wolf Hall” which is the story of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s time.  Damien Lewis ( who was in Homeland) will be playing Henry VIII.  Other actors appearing will be Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones).  We were told that Barrington Court will be doubling up for Hampton Court, where unfortunately they cannot film.  They will be using some of the grand rooms with their large fireplaces.

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There were fabulous tiles in the bathrooms, although I don’t expect they will be filming there.

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I hope they use the gardens too as they were lovely.  This picture was taken in the “White garden”.

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I love this little statue in the kitchen garden.

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The flower borders were lovely too.

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I really like the roses by the old stables.

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And the gorgeous Wisteria, one of my favourite flowers:-

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If you want to visit Barrington Court yourself, use our B&B as a base.  Quite a few vacancies now for June.

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