Thursday, 9 June 2011

Something in my soffit

My first Youtube video shows the wasp eggs ready to hatch, the larvae wriggling in situ.

It was at this point I decided it was time to take the nest down, which I did last night. I wore heavy gloves (ok, and a bee veil, a headlamp, protective glasses, heavy jeans, a heavy jacket, rubber boots) and started by putting a plastic bag around the nest, holding it in place at the point it joined the soffit. Immediately the queen emerged, mad as anything, and proceeded to bat her way around the bag, while I slipped the nest free with a spatula. I clipped the bag shut and popped it into the freezer.

Sad that I couldn't watch the construction a little longer, as it was in a perfect position for observation, but there's no reasoning with a wasp.

While I was at it I thought I'd better take the hornet nest down as well, since those eggs must also be getting close to hatching. I used the same procedure as with the wasp nest, and have a new appreciation for the expression "mad as a hornet". But better to have to cope with a 3 inch long nest with one angry queen than.. well, more than that.

My bee expert tells me that these hornets hunt wasps, and for that reason, the popular fake nests you hang to keep wasps away are modelled on the (bigger, rounder, longer) nest of this one, Dolichovespula maculata.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

State of play: beginning of June

This spring has been cold and wet, and things are behind by a month or so. Which perhaps is why I still have a last few tulips bravely blooming at the back of the garden.

Oca is flourishing in pots. I'll transplant it later in the season when it's ready to set tubers.

I rigged a temporary greenhouse for the tomatoes

which include: Auriga, Bearo Plum, Black Krim, Black Zebra, Flamme, Japanese Black Trifele, Juliet Roma, Persimmon, Red Cherry, San Marzano, Speckled Roman.

Meanwhile, mint is flourishing in its pot.

Strawberries in various locations, including pots.

In another pot, a big one, I have a fig tree coming to life.

I hope to win the battle of the slugs, who are enjoying my peas.

Egyptian walking onions getting themselves in a knot, nearly ready to walk.

Some unwelcome wildlife I came upon while taking tent caterpillars out of my apple tree: Vespa maculata. Despite their excellent value in insect control (they prefer to feed on live prey) I'm told they're one of the most aggressive species and therefore not the sort of thing I want at nose level in my tree. Their nests are said to be large and impressive; this one is only the size of an apple at the moment, and rather beautiful.

More welcome visitors include bees of various shapes and sizes.

Bad news for the Blue Orchard Mason bees though. Turns out their new condo wasn't watertight and what with the wind, the rain, the fluctuations in temperature, some of the babes are going mouldy.

Rising damp evident in the basement floor.