Well I’ve solved the mystery of the missing Queen. I checked the indoor hive this afternoon and the first thing I noticed was that there are a hell of a lot of bees for this time of year. This is great because a large workforce means plenty of stores coming it but it is a little surprising.
This hive is on a double brood box – which means they have twice as much space as you’d normally give to brood in a hive but it suited them last year in the height of the summer. I’m a bit shocked – alarmed in fact that there is already a lot of brood in the second brood chamber. It’s not a bad thing by any means but a hive that runs out of space to lay eggs will either abscond or swarm, I am a bit concerned over just how large this colony is going to get and how I’m going to provide them with enough space.
Still wondering where the queen was at this point, but not worried as with all this brood around she’s obviously there and busy making eggs. I noticed bees clustering over one spot on a comb. Gently blowing on them to get them to shift revealed something I hadn’t expected.
Dead centre in that picture and caught in the process of laying – that’s not my queen! When I closed up the hive in the Autumn – just before I shattered a foot and couldn’t check then any more, I had a lovely queen with a blue spot on her back. The bees must have decided she was past it even though she was only two years old. She’s been superceded – the workers revolted, raised a new head and disposed of the old one.
I have great plans for this one – she’s blatantly a good egg producer and the allotment hive needs a new head, I’m going to try to make sure it’s her daughter.
Right, it’s baking time
I’m still in full nostalgic Welshness in the kitchen and it’s time for something sweet. Why not join in and treat yourself to a batch of Welsh cakes?
The usual disclaimer applies – I didn’t weight anything, I just guessed. Honestly if you need to weigh the ingredients I won’t judge you but you will never become a true Jedi.
About 200g plain flour
About 100g butter
A small handful of sugar – or honey – see below
Spice of your choice
A handful of currants
A splash of milk
Rub the butter into the flour and add the rest of the dry stuff. If you’re using honey, I’ve found the best way is to warm it slightly and beat it into the egg.
Add the dried fruit and the egg and mix the whole lot together, you might need a splash of milk to bind it.
Roll the dough out to half a centimetre thick, cut it into circles.
When it comes to cooking, like crumpets, you need to keep the heat low or they’ll burn before they cook through. An iron pan makes life a lot easier here and give it a light coating of butter. Flip the cakes after about four minutes, they should be nicely browned.
If you must, you can keep them for a couple days but you’re best off eating them straight from the pan.
Next time – pimping the Welsh cake.