It never rains but it pours…

After the long hard winter in the Rhodope Mountains, so snowed in we couldn’t drive our Land Rover out of the garden into the lane, spring leapt and after a month of hot sunshine and Spring flowers we had April showers followed by May storms. Seemingly everyday we hear the rumble of thunder though usually we watch the storm pass by in the distance. The spectacular cloud formations and the electricity we sense are invigorating. We really feel alive in these mountains. The good thing about the rains here is when they are heavy, they are short lived, and afterwards we see the steam rising off the forests as the sun creates clouds below us.

Hen & Chicks

Life is a challenge here and everyday something new occurs. Like today I was brought a hen and her babies by one of our local workmen who built the chicken house and whose Dad had raised the brood especially for me. I knew they were coming but delivery date was a total surprise as the chicken house needed adjusting so the tiny chicks didn’t fall through the slatted floor! Then while the house was being made ready, I got an urgent call from our neighbour – baby bees had swarmed from my beehive and taken up residence in the gateway to his cowshed directly below! A storm was threatening and they needed to be contained before the rains began or they might go further away and be harder to reach. I had another beehive to populate and to transfer them I had a skep in my garage but it was old and dry. Again I wasn’t ready! Luckily my neighbour had a usable skep and together we positioned it over the swarm and encouraged the bees into. Typically, they had chosen a bramble bush as their new home, which was quite difficult to avoid pricks from as we cut down to access the bees. But we persevered and eventually most were in or on the skep, which we put on the ground.

Next we got my hive with only 3 frames ready and positioned it beside the skep. Removing the lid, the skep fitted inside and with one big shake they dropped into their new home. Quickly we replaced the cover and helped direct the stragglers to the hive entrance with gentle coercion brushing. Now to wait until the evening when they would all be inside, which gave me time to make the other 7 frames for them to build their combs in.

Meanwhile, the storm had rolled in, preceded by loud thunder rolls and dark moody clouds on the horizon. The rush was on to get the chicken house ready so the new mother hen and her brood could be in before they got wet and cold. The first spots started as she was caught and squawked until all her babies were once again under her protective wings. Then there was the resident cock and hen to round up before they were soaked through. Having an acre garden with many paths and obstacles, and a pair of chickens that were loving their free range, became a game I didn’t have time for! Chasing them around the greenhouse and vegetable patch was getting frustrating until our local workmen, who were finished in our garden for the day, positioned themselves in suitable locations and success – home at last.

Then our neighbour turned up to help move the hive up to our garden and asked why we weren’t ready yet. It’s a long story, I said…. so we poured him a Rakia and he was happy to wait until I finished the frames. Moving the hive up from the lane was much easier than getting the first colony and, once they’d settled down, I installed their new comb structures. Busy little bees had already built on the 3 original frames but the transition had broken the waxes and they had to be removed. More work for me tomorrow to remake them but hey, this lifestyle suits me with my ever growing organic ark. The day finished with a beautiful rainbow and pink sunset

Melly

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