Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Field Study's Man in E17 bemoans his lot

I looked for a bench at which to gather my 'selves' and collectively bemoan the lot that is the studied field of E17 and surrounds. I strayed into E11 and found my 'selves' on the arts trail of Leytonstone in the midst of a festival. Many benches presented themselves for the multiple seats of the fright that is Field Study's Man in E17 (E!&). One ghostly man came to bemoan a broken and very sensitive tooth. Another ghost came to bemoan an aching jaw or quite possibly a closely related temporomandibular joint disorder. Another bemoaned the exorbitant cost of dental treatment and moaned as loudly his distrust of certain dental practitioners. Another clutched his aching belly and belched acid vowels, all induced by a high dose prescription anti inflammatory intended to relieve the pain of inflamed mandibles.  Two men tried to out-bemoan each other over the question of phrases apt for summing up the state or states of J.A.Beere; this out of sorts versus out of kilter din became a cause for a communal migraine. That hullabaloo was interrupted by a hulla-boohoo of a man with a laptop computer that will not turn on, start up and tune in reliably despite tediously prolonged attempts at repairs. You think you've got problems, piped up another whilst pointing to raised beds of slug gobbled squashes, beans, peas, kale, brocolli, swede, radishes, turnips, beetroot, leeks. In what was becoming a festival of over studied self pity, the man who cried he couldn't even yawn without it hurting too much caused others to smile and snigger. Those who laughed out loud regretted doing so for their temporary flowering of mirth amidst the slithered wasteland of misery attracted the ominous buzz of the bee(re)keeping ghost - a most bitter fellow he as he harped on about the apocalypse that is and may be according to the news courtesy of the BeereBeeC Today programme. An ailing cyclist cried out loud for the dreadful puns to cease, for all to hush and listen to the crickety crack of a disintegrating bottom bracket; yet another item to replace in a litany of 2012 bicycling misdemeanours. 2012! Such unfortunate synonymity! We all clutched our jaws in 2012 agony, a collective scream at that behemoth with it's very perverse ORNs. Another sat with a crumpled map of that get ahead (get a brain) perversity and repeatedly uttered bloody hell through his gritted and grinding teeth while more spectral complainants arrived, each with a slug-bear to toss into the insular pottyness of a stewing gloom.

I had not expected to convene so many 'selves' in such acutely neurotic form and soon it was clear there was little benefit to be had by wallowing and bemoaning so. One of us had to make a break for fields less introspective and a rare glimmer of sunshine signalled a chance to visit the apiary and see how the recently introduced Buckfast queen bees are doing.

The apiary has 3 hives (3 colonies), two of which have new Buckfast queens. The wet weather has hampered foraging and necessitated feeding with a supplementary sugar syrup. The queens appear to have established themselves well; in the brood boxes the frames have a lot of worker brood, and increasingly, drone brood. The (male) drones incubate for longer than the queen and worker bees - 24 days, compared to a queen bee at 15 days, and a worker bee at 21 days. The extended drone incubation makes it the preferred location for the harmful varroa mite to inhabit the hive. One way of managing varroa infestation is to cull the drone brood; effectively removing a large proportion of the mites. I mistakenly thought the queen mates with just one drone however it is so that a queen bee will mate with 5 - 15 drones over the course of 2 or 3 mating flights. The act of mating is fatal for a drone, its/his genitalia exploding and ripping away to remain in the vaginal opening of the queen. The mating flights stop when the queen's spermatheca is filled.

The new Buckfast queens arrived, by post, mated. I'm unsure if they are or were fully mated and thus if any of the drones currently in the hives will be needed for mating before they are all expelled from the hive at the end of the summer prior to hibernation. While a large population of drones signifies a larger gene pool and  longer term evolutionary benefits, there is the complication that drones do not forage and thus contribute to the food stores. Their nurture and flights from the hive, in readiness for an un-mated queen, mean that during poor weather they add to the risk of a colony starving although they are important in the maintenance of hive temperature or 'nestduftwarmebindung'. Culling drones may make the colony more aggressive.

Here below, studies of the waxy drone filled catacombs, each larvae present in immaculate embryonic and ectoplasmic form.


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