The Railway Terrace Honey Bees

It all started on Thursday 13th November 2014 when I received a telephone call from a very good friend informing me that some Honey bees are living in Cardiff and could do with re-homing.  Due to other work commitments, the soonest we were able to pay them a visit was on Monday 17th November 2014.

So we come to Monday 17th November 2014… and what a day this turned out to be…

I aimed to be there for around 1400hrs but I was then reminded about my Fracture Clinic appointment at 1630hrs.  So Kate and I arrived at the given address in Cardiff for noon and were greeted by the sight of a beautiful small colony that was in fact living approximately 7 foot up in a Blackthorn tree.  There was very little comb present and even less honey stores were seen. The comb was built around some crossing branches which gave them much needed stability, but also required us to give careful consideration to aid in removing these ladies.

The Railway Terrace Honey Bees

Our very good friend who gave us the call initially was also there with us as we thought he would appreciate the opportunity to see them be re-homed.  We chatted and quickly decided the best course of action for them; this involved using a step ladder, a pair of tree loppers and the remainder of our beekeeping retrieval equipment.

We began with a gentle pruning of the immediate area beneath the colony, being very careful not to disturb any branch which was attached to the comb.  There was a lot of banter flying around due to my pruning techniques, as Kate and our friend are both highly trained in horticulture.  After some 10 minutes we were ready to focus on the Honey bees themselves, with one person on a step ladder and the other cutting through the remaining branches which would release the comb and let them fall into the waiting container.

It went absolutely perfectly, the Honey bees were placid and now inside the container, I placed the lid of the container on, to seal them inside.  All in all it took some 20 minutes before we were loading the car up with our kit, saying our goodbyes and were on our way back home.

It was a leisurely 45 minute return drive home when I decided to drive my car into the paddock where the bees were going to live from now on.  I decided on driving into the paddock for a reason.  Only 2 weeks earlier, whilst climbing over the wall into the paddock I ended up with a very badly broken little finger when a piece of the wall fell off (you can read about that little adventure here), plus my car is a 4×4 so there should be no problem… Or so I thought…

The transfer of Honey bees into their brand new Warre beehive was as simple as it comes.  We set the hive in its final resting place and placed a Queen excluder between the two boxes to ensure that when we placed the bees inside, the Queen, if she is in there, would not be able to leave.  The Queen excluder will be removed as soon as I seen signs of comb building, which means that they are happy to settle.

We removed their very empty and very wet comb (from the recent rainfall) from the Honey Bees and lowered the ladies into the Warre beehive on top of the Queen Excluder.  We had been anticipating the arrival of these little ladies for a few days, some food and top bars which had wax starter strips was on hand to complete their rehoming.

After the food was placed on and the hive was closed up, it was time to leave the paddock and get ready to go to my Fracture Clinic appointment which was fast approaching.  So we got in my car and began to drive the long way around the paddock.  It was an unusual but great experience driving through the paddock which was dying back from a year’s growth.  Earlier in the summer the plants were at least 7 foot tall and resembled a thick jungle.

Just as we came to the exit the paddock, my 4×4 car lost some grip; in fact it lost its entire grip.  I tried to reverse, nope that didn’t work, OK well lets go forward again, nope not that way either. There was a lot of laughter coming from within the car at this point as my co-conspirator Kate, often has a joke that my car is not a real 4×4 as there is no differential lock. We quickly decided to go and get her much larger 4×4 which does have a differential lock to pull me out.

Moments later the “Deli” as it is affectionately known arrived in the paddock to rescue my wonderful car.  We lined the Deli up in front of mine, got the ropes ready, attached the vehicles together and began to move my car from its muddy resting place.

This lasted all of about 5 seconds before the Deli too succumbed to the muddiness of the paddock, even with its alleged all singing, all dancing differential lock.

Boy oh boy did we laugh, both of our cars which should easily manage this type of ground, didn’t.  After several attempts of moving the cars we went back to the house to see if any assistance was available.

Two 4x4s stuck in the paddockThe cavalry arrived… Hooray… With a look of disbelief upon his face, as to how we managed to end up here.  There were some more attempts of moving either vehicle before the camera came out and the photographs were made.  My Fracture Clinic appointment was now looming, with just 30 minutes to go, so we decided to let the muddy quagmire win this battle for today, but we were determined to win this war on mud.

Thankfully there was another car for me to use to visit the hospital.  Upon my arrival I was sent to the X-ray department to have another X-ray.  There were 4 people in front of me also waiting, so I was anticipating a lengthy wait.  Fortunately for me, when the next named was called, all 4 of these people stood up and headed towards the relevant room.  I immediately noticed the subtle uniforms and handcuffs restraining one of them.  So there were 3 prison guards escorting a prisoner for whatever fracture that he has received.

After my X-ray and meeting with the Consultant to see how my broken little finger is healing, I headed to Waitrose to collect a couple of items for the household from my mentally noted shopping list.  Once inside Waitrose I noticed that my shopping list had completely disappeared from my memory, so I took a phone out of my pocket and called home to ask for some assistance in remembering.

Once the items were again made known to me, I went to get a trolley, returned to the store to collect the items and headed to the till to pay up.  Once at the checkout, it now quickly became apparent that the money that was in my pocket was not there now…

This induced a panic of searching all of my pockets but to no avail, even though I checked each pocket several times.  The checkout assistant advised me to ask at the Customer Service desk to see if anything was handed in.  I retraced my footsteps through the store before heading to the customer service desk to ask if any money had been kindly handed in.  I explained how much was missing and what notes they were, and then I was given the fantastic news that a very kind hearted citizen had not chosen to keep the money for themselves.  Phew… I was most certainly thankful for such honesty.

The following day, both vehicles were still being held captive by the mud.  In the meantime our friendly local farmer offered to help out; therefore we were waiting of the arrival of a tractor.

The following day I went to my car to collect something while I noticed that the ground was slightly firmer.  This urged me to see if my car would now move, and in fact it did.  It drove directly out of the paddock to my amazement; this encouraged me to try the Deli as well.  Well that didn’t go quite so well and the Deli remained there until the following day when the farmer arrived with his tractor.

A whole week has gone by since we first got stuck and now I have sad news to report.

I checked upon the Railway Terrace Honey bees this morning and found a lifeless hive.  This is always a sad time for me finding dead honey bees.  We tried our very best for them, providing them with a home, with plenty of food and with the best of intentions it seems that they were beyond any help.

I know that they would not have survived if they remained in the tree at Railway Terrace, but I thought that maybe, just maybe we would be able to help enough so that they could see another season.

Sometimes no matter what we do… nature calls

Honey bees… looking for love

Honey bees… looking for love
Dammit… Where has this year gone??  I do not really remember the summer but winter is most certainly knocking at the door.

With winter comes the retrieval of the thick coats, alpaca hats, kayaking down rivers, the holiday season and the madness that it brings with it, and with that madness comes a surge in the production of crafts from my workshop.  All of those offcuts of Western Red Cedar (WRC) that have been filling up every available space all year and thus annoying me are slowly leaving after a transformation into something Christmassy (ish).

Honestly…  I should of been thinking about Christmas crafts during the summer but since I am not able to recall a Welsh summer in 2012 I will just plough on with making items to sell at the remaining stalls that I will be attending this year.

As a person who appreciates the environment and our wildlife, my theme just had to be Nature… but how can one sum up Christmas and Nature from several bags of Western Red Cedar offcuts??  

I rattled my brains (which was more of a hindrance rather than helpful to be honest) and “keep it simple” kept springing to the forefront of my mind.

“Impressed” is what I’m thinking about myself this year, to be able to produce in a very short turn around period a collection of multifunctional gifts.  All of the items which are WRC also have the added value of being a moth repellent during the warmer months next year.

Inspiration…

Have you ever really looked at a tree??  I mean really look at a tree, there is something so fascinating about them, their shape, how they compete with each other, how they provide so, so much for our wildlife, how much they change in a season.  I think I will make more trees to capture and exploit their beauty, just cannot seem to get them out of my head.  There are already much bigger plans evolving in my mind (as I’m typing, and yes it is distracting).

Trees and their fascinating shapes
Then there are these boxes, lots of time and effort have gone into producing these.  The wood smells amazing, the joints are perfect and I just love the ideas people come up with to utilise them. 


The Christmassy craft is upon us, so a lovely selection of tree decorations were made but they looked so sad laying down in their respective bundles.  TREE… TREE… TREE… I kept hearing, so a proud Black tree has sprung into existence, for them to lure in customers glancing eyes.


My very own Tree 

So much hassle keeping these giant Honey bees and dwarf Reindeer apart



Finally, there has been certain bespoke items requested, fortunately my imagination and design was allowed to run loose.  Again the “Nature” theme was paramount but for the items that they requested, I think practicality was essential.  So I give you these small but perfectly formed door stops which have my lovely “Burnt Bees” on them.  
Practicality prevails when making wedges for a wonderful valued customer

And last but by certainly no means least… I bring you a Tofu Press…  For the wonderful person who asked for this, my thoughts were drawn to personalisation and the extra effort would really make a difference here.  I have never drawn a butterfly before, well not an accurate one anyhow but since I decided to use pyrography to produce this butterfly, then it best be a great one…  

Mission successful (me thinks)  

Good night everyone
Nos da bawb

P.S If you wish to get in touch please follow the links below to the relevant website.  My contact details are highly visible. 

Thank you
Diolch

www.glastonbees.co.uk                  Facebook                       Twitter 

Tofu Press, personalised with this beautiful butterfly


“A constant reminder of the hazards of building beehives”

For this tale to be told, we need to go back in time to Friday 26th November 2011.  I must pre-warn you that this may be a long post as there is a lot to recall.

It began as any normal day does for me, my alarm goes off at 0730hrs, and I press snooze and this goes on until I get up some time later. 

The mornings are not the best time to be me; I am always even more tired than when I went to bed.   My hair looks like crap, I feel like crap and slowly I get myself downstairs to have some muesli and a cuppa tea while flicking through the news channels of RT, France24 and Al Jazeera (I cannot abide watching the British news broadcasting)

So after some 30 minutes of realising that I am actually awake, I drag myself upstairs to wash, clean teeth, use the toilet and decide to get properly dressed for whatever my day may hold for me, a regimental routine that is on autopilot every morning.

It was nearing 1530hrs on this Friday afternoon and I was using my Table saw to carry out some cutting of quite thin pieces of Western Red Cedar.  This is something which I have done before, felt comfortable doing it, so was enjoying my time, looking forward to finishing and going home.

Whilst cutting one of these thin pieces of wood, momentarily my focus and concentration were distracted, I foolishly looked away from the blade to look where my hands were going next, to pick up the next piece of wood, forgetting about the other hand that was still holding a piece a wood next to the 10inch blade spinning at some 4,500 rpm.

An indescribable noise was heard, followed by an automatic response to look at my hand…

I looked directly at my thumb and said several words that are unrepeatable on here…

It was serious, I began to panic as my thumb has never looked like this before, and it was very unnerving.  My thoughts were clear as day to me at that point, I need help and I need it now!!!

My best option was to see if anybody was down at the nearby house, so I rushed out of the workshop holding my left hand in the air.  As I reached the gate I thought that having my mobile phones on me would be a good idea, so I rushed back in to get them and rushed back to the gate.

Then I heard the table saw was still switched on, so I rushed back in to switch it off and rushed back out again.

I needed now to navigate my way past; one gate, followed by two horses, followed by another gate.  It was then a 100 metre dash across to my car, while still holding the left hand in the air, luckily for me I saw another car nearby so I rushed up to the house knocked and opened the door calling for the occupant, there was a reply.

“Hello, you alright”

Once I heard a reply, I kicked off my wellies so not to make a mess in the house and headed straight for the kitchen sink, not knowing that I was leaving a trail of blood across the floor.  

Relief… I was with someone. 

“What’s the matter” I heard

“Ummm, I’ve had a slight accident” I replied

By this time I had already pulled a chair up to the kitchen sink and was leaning with my hand over the sink, trying to come to terms with what has just happened.  This friendly voice appeared, I do not remember seeing a face, and it was the most calming person that I could have wished for at that time.

Only now, this was becoming a difficult time for me, shock was starting to kick in…

This soothing voice told me that they needed to look at my thumb, to see what’s happened, for some reason I looked at my thumb at the same time.

More unrepeatable words came from my lips, mainly because my thumb was looking drastically different to how it did 10 minutes previous when I last looked at it.  Only now after I just looked at it again for the second time, did the pain start, the feeling came back, the shock began to have a massive effect on me. 

I guess previously I was fully alert and realised that I needed to get to help or safety, now that I have found help I can relax but with that came the pain.

What had happened was that the blade spinning at some 4,500 rpm had gone through 90% of the top of my thumb.  Only a little bit was intact and that was acting like a hinge holding the tip of the thumb to the rest of the thumb.  It looked like a mess; it was a bloody mess, I was told 

“It looks like a little bomb had gone off inside my thumb”.

I could feel parts of the thumb, which was very uncomfortable.  After going through what felt like an eternity of time with shock, going through stages of cold, sweating, feeling sick, dizzy, back to sweating, non stop fidgeting, back to cold, dizzy and back to sweating. 

An ambulance had to be called to take me to hospital as the person that was helping me wouldn’t have been able to lift me if I had collapsed.  Listening to the telephone call to 999 was cruel, it took such an age, and the person on the other end of the phone was asking the necessary questions needed to get someone out to me.  I heard her say

“What the pain currently like, marks out of 10”

“12, 12, JUST HURRY UP!!!” I replied

(Patience is one talent that is hit and miss with me sometimes).

So an ambulance and two very calm paramedics arrived and gave me some Morphine which truthfully took the pain from 12 down to 9.  One paramedic spent some time looking for any other bits of my thumb following in my footsteps, none were found.  There was a bouncy drive down to the Newport A&E which made me feel quite sick, probably due to a mixture of shock, morphine and very soft suspension on the ambulance.

The waiting game began, 6 hours had passed which involved squirming around in a bed, walking around the corridor in A&E, seeing some friendly faces turning up to give moral support was nice, having the bandages removed by this sadist member of staff who had no consideration to my pain levels whatsoever and going for an X-ray. 

For my viewing pleasure while I was there, there were a guy with a bandage around his head walking around eating a McDonalds causing mischief which needed security to constantly return him to his cubicle and countless staff rushing around responding to beeps and telephones going off.

I was very fortunate to meet a very lovely nurse, her smile was reassuring, she was gentle, chatty and friendly unlike the sadist I met a short time earlier.  I’m not sure if it was the morphine or her smile that was taking away my pain.

The X-ray showed a problem, the top part of the bone in my thumb was in many, many pieces, this was not good; however, the X-ray was much easier to look at than my thumb itself.  After speaking with a Consultant about my options and having a final dressing put on by my lovely smiling Nurse, I was sent home, some 6 hours later with my arm in a sling to guarantee my arm stayed elevated.

The following day was spent with 9 hours at Morriston Hospital in Swansea at the Plastic Surgery Ward awaiting emergency surgery.  0900hrs we were there to meet an expert and he gave me two options of which I could not decide, so I asked him this

“If you were in my position what would you choose??”

I went with his choice…

The day was really interesting spending time with the other guys in the ward, chatting about our lives and funny stories, all of us with bandages somewhere on our bodies.   Waking up finding that my thumb had bled out all over my nice shirt, so had to make a phone call to ask for a new shirt to wear home. 

My name was called, so I got dressed into the required attire and went for a stroll with the member of staff to a holding area to be asked a ridiculous amount of questions when my brain was only thinking of one thing.  Previously after I came around after an operation, I had no memory or idea of how I got there and as I initially woke up I bolted upright in bed causing lots of pain, did not want that to happen again (this is not my first time going under a general anaesthetic).

Knowing what the outcome was going to be before I had the operation was hard to take initially; I was told that I would lose half of my thumb, coming to terms with that was hard being a Joiner working with tools needing dexterity, but after the operation, life felt much calmer, later that day I was allowed to go home. 

It was only a few days later that I went for a check-up back at Morriston Hospital that I realised the wonders of the staff in that Plastic Surgery ward.  They managed to save quite a bit of my thumb; I was told that I would lose half of my thumb when in fact I had only lost 7mm.  This made me appreciate my thumb so much more and now you wouldn’t be able to tell that I even had an accident unless I pointed it out to you. 

The finger nail has grown back, sensitivity is impaired and my time as the reigning thumb wars champion may come to an end when I’m next challenged.