I woke up this morning to find that my internet connection was down. I was practically hyerventilating within seconds. Am I one of the addicted ones? Grimly I turned everything off. I reluctantly backed away from the keyboard and went for a longer walk than usual. Something is happening to the air out there.. clouds are building, maybe rain?. That would be great. Then I did some house work (Not too much, it is hard to get excited about housework.) Put bread in to rise. Sorted tomatoes for todays Summer Sauce. Hung the first load of washing out (I like hanging it out, it is the getting it IN that has always been my problem). Moved Mama and her Flerd to a new field. Then decided to check one of my hives for those wretched varroa mites. Fingers crossed as I have not had any yet.
The best way to pre-empt infestation by the mites is like everything in the organic world of growing, OBSERVATION, Prevention and Note Taking. Now, I cannot go and look into the eyes of every bee on my morning walk the way I do with stock. Though bees eyes are quite startling. But I can make notes about any unusual behaviour. I have not seen any deformed bees, neither have we had heavy unexplained deaths. No bad smells in there. But my notes tell me that this hive is not thriving. Maybe the mites are there. I think like most parasites there will always be a presence we just need to make sure the balance does not tip in their favour.
I slide a white sheet under the grill in the base (to catch the mites when they fall so I can count them) dust the bees with powdered sugar and wait a bit. I do not need to dust each frame as I am only looking for mites not treating for them, so I just pour the sugar along the tops of the frames then brush and knock it among the bees. Thereby limiting the disruption. The bees are noisy and agitated around their hives this morning which is another sign that a storm may be coming. Mama and her babies are quiet.
Now my internet is back on. I had such a long wait that I have even sliced some more tomatoes for the dehydrater. I will dry them then pack them into jars and rehydrate them with olive oil and garlic and basil. Then store in the refrigerator. I dislike the dehydrater because it is noisy and uses electricity (which we try not to depend on) but I LOVE Sun Dried Tomatoes. We cannot sun dry them here as there is too much humidity. So the next best thing is to pop them into the noisy energy guzzling horrid little plastic machine.
Now we are waiting for the bees to clean up the hive and each other thereby dislodging some mites. Oh I forgot to tell you, the Custard Squares I made for Sunday’s dinner were great. The pastry was a bit dull due to the heat probably. The flakiest bestest pastry is made in the winter when the kitchen is cold. I will link you to a lovely French site that I found, her Egg Custard recipe of so simple and very tasty. I made this custard with freshest milk and freshly gathered eggs. I use a little less sugar than she does. Next time I will use honey and see what happens.
We had the custard with lavender jelly that I made in the spring and home-made unsweetened yoghurt. And that was just the dessert! OK. It has been a few hours and still no sign at all of mites on the white card. So I have given that hive a tentative ‘all clear’ until next time. Though I will leave the white card in for 24 hours anyway.
I had better go and get the laundry off the line. It is starting to rain. YAY!