Saturday, March 21, 2009

For best results ...

This sticker was on the back of a Jeremy Clarkson DVD in Sainsbury's!

Remember to remove all outer packaging first.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sun welcome at EclipseCon

I'm delighted to see that Sun are Gold sponsors of the EclipseCon event next week in Santa Clara. It's sure to be a great event, and encouraging to see Sun able to demo their Eclipse support for Solaris, Glassfish and JavaFX.

I wonder if the Netbeans girls will be back again too?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "wrong type" of nature

Here in the South of England spring seems to have arrived, and that means getting back out to the apiary to see how things have faired over winter.

I was pleased to see the colonies in both my hives are still alive and well (sadly not the case for many beekeepers' colonies this year).

You can see from the photo on the left that I left my hives with some winter protection. If you look closely you can see a metal "mouse guard" to keep the hibernating critters out, a super of honey for the bees' winter food, a solid roof which you can't see but has insulation inside, and the whole lot is surrounded with chicken wire -- which I had lying around in the garage.

The chicken wire is there to stop woodpeckers. In winter, when food is scarce, the woodpeckers figure out that there are bees in those big "lunch boxes", and they cling on the side to peck a hole and help themselves. Apparently, they will even tap around a bit and figure out that the handles are the thinnest part of the hive, and will attack there.

Well that was a good move, because the birds had helped themselves to some friends' bees that were placed close by:
Apart from the annoyance of having the woodwork damaged, and having bees eaten and wax damaged - having an extra entrance means the hive is harder to defend for the remaining bees and the reduced colony may well be "robbed" of any remaining food by stronger colonies. Once the woodpeckers learn there are free bees, they also tell their friends and you get them all round for a feast.

Luckily the damage was spotted quite quickly, and repairs made. Besides using chicken wire you can also tack plastic sheeting on the sides to stop the birds getting a hold.

With both my colonies growing again it will be time to restart the regular inspections and get back into the intriguing world of the honeybee.