Well, the sheep are back in my garden, and not all of them have realised that you can jump over a wall both ways. Sheep don't seem to be the smartest animals, but they are fun to have wandering around and I'm happy that they are nibbling the weeds.

Trail camera

Dan has made Monday's video!

This is another rabbit special, with so many rabbits and squirrels darting around, and a busy mouse. We see the deer, and I think two different fawns because one of them has lost his spots. This is a good sign. There are the badgers running through in their group of four even in late evening before dusk has fallen.


We have some excellent news. On Friday afternoon I got a call to collect a swarm. We've had a few of these before and I've been unable to collect them, but this one was only around 1500m away. Given my transport situation even this would have been impossible, but not only did the person who found the swarm come and get me, my landlord Helen picked me and 50,000 bees up in her pickup truck despite it being a very inconvenient time.

The person phoning in the swarm call had a large and long swarm hanging from the branch of a tree in his garden. The tree was flexible and all it took was a wobble of the branch for them all to fall off into the box. Coming back to the wood, I tipped them in to the hive and waited for them to settle. About a third of the colony voted with their feet and re-formed a swarm on a nearby tree. Among these I could see the queen, marked with a red spot on her back, indicating she was born in 2018. I placed two kilogram bags of Fondabee sucrose paste inside the hive as a bribe and, with the help of a brush, convinced some of the bees in the swarm to reconsider the prospect of Hive 1. By then I thought this was enough interference and I went to take off my veil and gloves and rest in the heat we have. I guess this heat also had some part in the bees' decision to swarm.

I wasn't really very optimistic about the likelihood of the bees staying around. Firstly, the rule of three feet and three miles, in which (apart from in December and January) it's advised to move bees over three miles to ensure they re-orientate at the new location. We were clearly within this radius. Secondly, seeing the queen on the first swarm from our hive. Thirdly, we were doing this at 2pm and not just before dusk, when they are less likely to leave. Fourthly, they would have hated the vibration of the truck and being shaken around. Fifthly, we are expecting even hotter weather this weekend. Dan came over in the early evening, and after some pizza in a local beer garden, we went to see if they'd settled in. A very welcome low hum could be heard from the hive. We opened it up briefly to adjust the huge sugar offering and vowed to leave them for the next three weeks. This even meant not going back before dusk that evening, and instead taking Olive the dog for a walk and rehydrating in the evening heat.

I'm writing this on Friday night and it's clear my bee suit needs to be replaced. Not only because of the heat, but also because of the fifty or so stings over my body. Interestingly, these are nowhere near as painful as when I've received lots of stings before, but if this colony choose to stay it'll mean the start of our beekeeping operation and I might have to treat myself to a BBWear Ultra Bee Suit like Dan's.

Yesterday, given the neighbours we've seen on the trail camera, I went back to make the hive more badger-proof. People talk about badgers versus bees, but I've been told they only resort to knocking over beehives when hungry in winter. Ah well, it doesn't hurt to put a couple of straps on the hive.

So, other than this and watching them go in and out, that'll be it for our involvement with the colony for the next three weeks apart from maybe a replacement bag of fondant. We'll just have to hope that that red-spotted queen made it into the hive.

Interestingly, the reporter of the swarm had two colonies of his own. One was in a top-bar hive. This looked very cool and after chatting to him for a bit I think I'll try to read up some more about them. Maybe one day when we have three colonies, one could be in a hive like this. And now that's a possibility.


It's been too hot to go out, so I've spent the weekend at home. Today was the Amateur Radio Outdoors JS8 net that I mentioned last week. I've been using a copper wire antenna for a while now and hanging out on the 20m band, even though most of the action is on the 40m band. The net is also on the 40m band (for now), so today I got out a reel of some light Sotabeams wire that I'd bought a while ago. Using my antenna analyser, I snipped away at the poles of the antenna until the minimum SWR was around 7.078MHz, that is, the antenna was resonant at just the right point for JS8. The idea of doing away with the ATU is appealing to me more and more now, and this afternoon demonstrated why. Usually I get a decent path to OH8STN in Finland, but simultaneously I had a good connection with the net controller HB9HJU in Switzerland as well as other stations not using the net across all of Europe. That meant I could help out with relaying where possible, as well as have a pleasant chat after the net ended. The net is an experiment for now, but it's got the potential to grow and be a good regular discussion about outdoorsy stuff, and I'll drop into it when I can.

Assorted links

Here's a miscellany of links that I've had lying around for a few weeks:

Also this week

Data.Aviary.Birds from Raymond Smullyan's To Mock a Mockingbird (and David Keenan's To Dissect a Mockingbird); LockPickingLawyer; Graham Hutton on Computerphile; Thorsten Altenkirch on Computerphile; The Print Shop (if you try its retro goodness, give it lots of time to print); 30˚C heat at night.