1 Comment

More Naughtiness – Or Bad Beekeeping?

My Beehives

My Beehives

Well, my second queen bee, Victoria has left her palace to set up in the wild with a load of her workers. Not sure when they went but they’ve definitely gone.

An experienced beekeeper who has been advising me says that this has been a really bad year for swarming. The warm June and high pollen levels have convinced the bees that they can make a go of it on their own and they’ve followed their natural instinct to spread out and start new colonies. (A bit like the British in 200 years or so ago. Hmmm maybe Victoria wasn’t a good name to choose for one of my queens?)

I suspect my problems have been caused mainly by me being a bad beekeeper. I don’t think I have been ruthless enough in destroying the unwanted queen cells which has encouraged the bees to swarm. So today I went through all the frames and squished every single queen cell except one nice big one in each hive. Hopefully I’ll soon have 2 new queen bees who will be better behaved than Liz and Vicky.

One consolation is that I have inadvertently boosted the local wild honey bee population which can only be a good thing.

1 Comment

Naughty Bees!

My followers will recall that I became the proud owner of two beehives last month each with a queen and a nucleus of 15-20,000 workers and a few drones. I named the queens Elizabeth and Victoria and their hives (palaces) Sandringham and Balmoral respectively. Everything has been going on brilliantly – the numbers of workers increasing and the honey stores building up. Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting have been very docile and well mannered and her palace and all her children have been very well tended. Victoria’s workers have been a lot more feisty and less well brought up but the numbers in Balmoral have increased more quickly than in Sandringham. So much so that last week I noticed some queen cups had been made and wondered if it was a sign they were thinking about swarming. However I had been told more than once that they probably wouldn’t bother swarming in their first season so not to worry too much. No sign of queen cups in Sandringham where the ladies were quietly going about their business as usual. I usually check the hives on Friday/Saturday each week provided the weather is OK and this Friday I went through Balmoral first. I immediately spotted a lot of queen cells with big, fat grubs in them. This is a sure sign that the colony is preparing to swarm. The new queens would emerge and whizz off to pastures new with half of Victoria’s workers or Victoria herself would clear off with 1000’s of her girls, leaving the new virgin queen to take over what was left of the old colony. This would result in insufficient honey for us humans if the bees were to have enough to last them through next winter. “Eek!” I thought. Victoria was wandering around amongst the bees so I (look away now if you’re squeamish) set about squishing all the princesses in their cells. I decided it was lack of space to lay her eggs that was causing this behaviour so I put a super on top of the brood box and beneath the queen excluder to give Victoria more space to lay her eggs. Fingers crossed! In Sandringham I was surprised to also see lots of queen cells with larvae inside. (Gruesome bit coming up) I set about squishing them as before. I worked my way through all the frames without spotting Elizabeth but there were quite a few eggs in the cells so I wasn’t too concerned. – If there are eggs there must be a queen in residence. Afterwards I couldn’t stop wondering if all was well with Sandringham and Elizabeth. Were there fewer bees than there had been last week? I decided to go in again and check on Saturday. Well, I opened up Sandringham and went through all the brood frames three times – no sign of Elizabeth. And there were definitely fewer bees. Conclusion – Elizabeth had zoomed off with half her ladies in waiting to start a new colony somewhere else. And I had murdered all the princesses! Or so I thought… Luckily I found another queen cell that I’d missed tucked into a corner so I’m hoping that, with the care of her sisters, a new queen will emerge in a week or so to continue the dynasty. I can’t believe that my nice, quiet, well mannered queen has been so treacherous. Still, the good news is that I also checked up on Victoria and she was happily wandering around her new loft extension and has already laid lots of eggs. So, hopefully the crisis has been averted. I should get some honey from Balmoral this season. I think Elizabeth II will have to concentrate on building up her household staff at Sandringham this season and I will look forward to some honey next year!

Queen Cell under Construction

Queen Cell under Construction

Queen Cups

Mini Beekeeper


No my hat is not on fire!

No my hat is not on fire!

Leave a comment

Where do all the hours in the day go?

Well I’m back again after a short break from blogging.

I haven’t been idle during my absence (chance would be a fine thing!). I have continued to rid my home of unneeded items as I’ve come across them but still feel far from minimalistic.

I have found that I need to involve my family as much as possible with my new way of living. I spent a week noting down how long I spent on each task I ‘have to’ do. – I know, I know, sometimes I can be very sad! It proved to be interesting. I was already aware that I don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I ‘have to’ do let alone what I actually WANT to do but this has clarified where all the time goes. I’ll give you an edited version of my findings:

Laundry – 12 hours per week. I have modern laundry equipment and detergents so I’m not having to carry it down to the river and scrub it all by hand so why does it take up so much of my valuable time? 2 reasons I think: 1. The children put clothes on and then get changed more than once per day sometimes. At the end of the day they just chuck it all in the wash so a lot of what I wash isn’t even dirty. 2. A lot of my time is spent folding and putting away clothes. So, now I’m trying (and partially succeeding) to get them to keep one set of scruffs to put on after school and only put their clothes in the wash when they need it. – Do the ‘look at the front and back test’ followed by the ‘sniff test’. I’ve also been putting a pile of each person’s clothes on their beds and they can put them away themselves. This also helps them to know where all their clothes are when they’re looking for something. Husband’s clothes now look like the leaning tower of Pisa on top of the chest of drawers.

Tidying Up – 9 hours per week. This is just simply picking up things which have been left out and putting them away. This has had to stop.  Each day I now spend 10 minutes walking around the house, picking up anything that has not been put away and piling it all on the culprit’s TV chair/beanbag. They can then not watch TV until they have put all the stuff away. This has worked quite well with the children. They have been trying to keep their things more tidy and have sorted out their books and toys to reduce the amount of stuff they have cluttering up their playroom and bedrooms. We did a big tidy up which took 2 days and they now know where everything ‘lives’ and are spending 10 minutes per day picking up their stuff and, on the whole, their space (and the rest of our home) is a far less cluttered place to be. The person who ends up with the most stuff on his tv chair every day is my husband. He is not really getting it yet. After a week of having a great big heap of stuff to put away every evening before he can watch the world cup, each new day’s pile doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. It is certainly true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks ha ha! My tidying up has now gone down from 9 hours per week to 4.

Work – 24 hours. This is my ‘proper’ job as the finance director of our company. This varies depending on the needs of the business and was quite a short week.

Childcare – 12 hours. This is mainly ferrying them around and driving them to and from school. It also includes ‘persuading’ them to do their homework, testing spellings etc. I don’t begrudge any of this but it can be exhausting.

Other Work – 24 hours. This covers cleaning, cooking, filling/emptying the dishwasher, washing up, dog care, shopping, putting out the rubbish, home paperwork/admin. Boring but necessary.

So my working week was 81 hours. 13 hours per day Monday – Friday, 8 hours per day at weekends. No wonder I’m knackered.

My leisure time was a total of 24 hours. This seems a lot but it included sleeping before 10pm or after 6am, eating, showering/bathing, getting ready to leave the house (dressing, makeup, hair etc.), time spent with husband/friends/children, tv, beekeeping, gardening, walking the dogs, time spent online…..what I would really like is some time spent doing absolutely nothing at all.

I think the worst thing is I feel as if I’m on a treadmill, doing the same old stuff which I feel I have to do and never being able to get off it to follow my dreams. I’m 50 next year so I’d better get a move on!

So, apart from the laundry reduction and tidying revolution above, what else can I do to reduce the workload? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Holkham Beach Nofolk

Holkham Beach Norfolk – wish I was there!



1 Comment

Slowing Down the Decluttering


I have decided to have a short break from disposing of stuff. I need time to take stock and pause for thought. It would be relatively easy to continue to chuck stuff out willy nilly just to meet an arbitrary target which I have set myself.

i don’t see this as failure. I have managed 28 continuous days of getting rid of 1 more thing each day which means I have reduced my clutter by more than 400 things! (See my previous posts for details of what I disposed of where.) I have raised over £100 for charity by selling stuff which was of value. My local charity shops have received numerous donations of items and a few local people have been able to make use of things I no longer need. I can now find the things I need quickly and I feel ‘lighter’ – less weighed down by stuff. I am seriously thinking before acquiring more stuff whether I really need it.


Leave a comment

DAY 28

A bit further on the road to a more minimalist life: I now know where nearly everything I own belongs. There is still too much of it but at least I know where to find most things straight away without spending ages running around like a headless chicken looking for keys/purse/phone/shoes/coat/ipod……

However, I have some doubts as to the value of what I have been doing. When I look at the list of things I have got rid of, a lot of it is rubbish which should have been disposed of straight away rather than tucked away somewhere to gather dust. Am I really reducing my possessions or just chucking out rubbish? I think what I need to focus on once this exercise is finished is actually reducing the amount of belongings I have rather than just decluttering.

I have sorted through my jewellery boxes today. I have put all the broken chains, odd earrings etc. into an envelope to go into a charity collection at school. I’ve put a couple of things into the charity shop bag and thrown away about 6 jewellers boxes and a broken jewellery box. But I’ve still got about 30 necklaces, not to mention all the pairs of earrings, bracelets etc. I don’t even wear much jewellery. The problem is I don’t know yet which pieces to give away and which to keep. So I’ve just put everything away in an orderly way and I’ll revisit this problem later.

I think what I need to do is complete the 30 days and see it as a major clear out of  unnecessary clutter. then, when I can see the wood from the trees, take a look at each and every thing I possess and ask myself if I know it to be useful or believe it to be beautiful. If the answer is ‘no’ – pass it on to someone else who will appreciate it. I’m going through the ‘quantity’ at the moment and I need to move on to the ‘quality’.


My photo today is a sparkling, clear river in which we swam in the summer of 2012 near St Etienne Vallee Francais in the stunning Cevennes region of France.


River in Cevennes, France


Leave a comment


Yesterday, after a couple of days break, I managed to continue with my disposal of unwanted stuff. I sorted out another cupboard in the garage and threw away:

  1. Some odd wall tiles – not enough to do anything with
  2. A used water filter (?!)
  3. A broken shower head (?!)
  4. 2 ancient light fittings
  5. A broken radio aerial
  6. Some more broken christmas lights
  7. Half a tube of solid filler
  8. A perished window cleaning squeegee
  9. Some short bits of plastic plumbing pipe
  10. A heap of used tile spacers 

I put in the recycling:

  1. Some metal cupboard fittings
  2. Some metal door knobs
  3. Some random rolls of wire
  4. Some rusty steel wool
  5. Some odd metal wall brackets

Added to the 11 things I sold/gave away/threw away the other day that’s my 26.

Today the 27 things I disposed of were:

3 things given away via freegle: Pond Liner, pond pump and a set of garden lights.

6 things given to the charity shop: Smoothie maker, a pile of Christmas gift bags, 2 felt Santa Sacks, 3 kids buckets, 2 kids spades and a pile of other assorted sand toys.

2 things recycled: a load of Christmas cards and a roll of scrunched up wrapping paper.

15 things thrown away: Some nibbled paint rollers, nibbled tennis racquets, broken badminton racquets, 3 or 4 ball pit balls, some nibbled plastic cricket stumps, 2 odd plastic boules, a broken kite, some nibbled shuttlecocks, a broken snow brick maker, 2 football marker things, some nibble bits from a tag game, old ice-cream tubs, some nibbled bags, broken garden canes and an old phone charger.

1 thing up-cycled:  Loads and loads of seashells picked up by various children on various beaches over the last 5 years or so. i have put these amongst my alpine plants on my raised bed/rock garden and they look very nice indeed (even if I say so myself!) I will add a photo of said rock garden tomorrow – It’s dark now…



Leave a comment

Day 27 and 28 – extreme failure…but brilliant bees!

For the past 2 days I have been really struggling with a massive headache so my journey towards a more minimalist life has ground to a halt.

I will continue tomorrow with the remaining 15 things from day 26.

Saturday will be my new Day 27.

On the plus side, my bees are doing really well. I have named the queens Victoria and Elizabeth. Victoria’s hive is called Balmoral and the bees are using all 11 frames in the brood box with sealed brood in 6 of them. I have therefore put the queen excluder and my first super on top today. Elizabeth’s hive is called Sandringham and they are also doing very well. This was a smaller Nuc to start off with so they are not quite so far ahead. I have left them with just the brood box for now. They are only using 8 of the 11 frames so far but I’m sure by next week I will be able to put a super on top of this hive too.

Here is a picture of some of my lovely bees: