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Saturday, 19 July 2014

A new (ish) hive

As reported in the last post the bees are doing really well. With this in mind we had a couple of options. One to get another tier for the hive we have, another to get in touch with companies selling new hives. We had been offered and accepted a couple of hives from someone we knew, but a neighbour of her's wanted them and we must look after our neighbours, then a friend who keeps bees offered us the loan of a tier, nothing from the five companies we contacted. A chance meeting with some ex-pats and an overheard conversation and a hive was produced in the village. Why we didn't think to ask the bar owner in the first place I don't know. So the new (ish) hive was collected and with a few modifications the bees and their brood and honey were transferred. It holds a few more frames and as soon as they are filled we will be extracting some honey.
Our original lilac hive.....

....and the bigger blue hive, with a section added in the middle as the lower portion was not deep enough for the brood frames

The old hive in the wood shed.....

....a couple of bees got lost

Which brings me to the honey extractor. Dave tried making a contraption but was getting a bit frustrated with it. We were contacted by a chap in the next village who had one for sale and off Dave went for a look. I have to admit it is an interesting bit of kit and if we decide not to use it it will make a good talking point. It is a huge contraption, capable of taking eight frames (we only wanted a two frame one) with a handle to crank and a tap. It has seen better days and is galvanised so if we use it we will not be able to sell any honey as EU regulations say it needs to be stainless steel, and so it should be. We will make do with filtering it for ourselves and it has had a good scrub and is ready to go.

The honey drain

Before having a good scrub

And the free hive, not a looker but is full of frames which just need new wax and it will do for spare parts

I had decided to cut down on the chutney making as there are only three months of car boots left and we don't eat huge amounts of the stuff ourselves so didn't want to be left with it...coupled with the threat of being ousted by the professionals. It is after all just a hobby. But we have these tomatoes coming out of our ears....the onions need using as some are going soft.....I have been given a load of apples....and even more beans.....and had the gooseberries to use. So much for that, there are new jars of apple and tomato, spiced tomato (plus some for us as I over boiled a batch) apple and onion, sweet and sour pickled beans, apple sauce and gooseberry jam. I want to do some more cucumber pickle and black plum jam, but would need to go shopping again for sugar and vinegar and bottles.
The black/purple plum tree is heavy with fruit with one branch falling

A very good year for the cornel (cornus) but the fruits, though a 'superfood' are incredibly astringent

But we are catching them in a net so our neighbour can have them for making rakia

Not sure what I am going to do with the bucket of yellow beans I was given today.....or the tomatoes in the bucket and bowls....or the ones waiting to be picked. I have skinned and frozen a load and bottled some more. I had trayed up a load to dry in the sun, but the sun went in and the tomatoes went mouldy. Oh well. I managed to give a big box of veg away but it has not made a dent.

Dave has finished an outstanding commission today, a friend's five dogs. A lovely painting and real likenesses. Some good coming from the dull weather we have had the last couple of days so with the tiger delivered last week he is up to date. The next one is for next year.

The five dogs...

And the tigress and cub

In the garden we plan on harvesting the borlotti beans this week but will have to wait for them to dry after the rain. The sweetcorn is still not ready but I am keeping an eye on it, don't want it to go too far so that I have to givethem to the chooks. And all the brassicas have whitefly so it will be out with the soapy water spray this week. And the tomatoes, cues and courgettes just keep coming........


There has been a bit of very sad news from a friend this week. She has had her two horses stolen from their field and is totally devastated. The thieves were careful to remove their recognisable fly masks before moving them, and it has to be someone who knows the area well as the house is not on the main drag. The facebook community have pulled together to try to find out who has taken them but although one is a palamino, a fairly unusual colour here, there has been no sightings and no dealer has heard anything. I really hope there is a good outcome. Pictures of the girls above.

I would like to take the opprtunity to thank all those of you who keep reading and especially those who comment, it is really appreciated. And the new chap, The Man In The White Hat, who is reading from start to finish and commenting as he goes. When you get here, thenk you very much for the positive feedback.


  1. The paintings of the dogs are brilliant. Wish I lived near you as I love chutney.

    1. Thanks markdebby, I will pass that on to himself.

      Strangely enough I am going off chutney a bit. I suppose I should be making it for next year so it has time to mature. An idea for when we have the fire going in winter I think.

  2. All the honey/bee news is exciting! I buy honey locally but it would be much more fun to have my own. Your husband's paintings are beautiful and the lucky people who have such a nice portrait of their five dogs.
    I have had my first cukes and my first cherry sized tomato (sungold, always the earliest and so delicious) for lunch today. I lost all my first planting of beans, chard, and beets to a baby rabbit, in spite I my "rabbit proof fence". So disheartening and I cannot figure out how he is getting in.

    1. Hi Cynthia. Dave is really enjoying his bees, they are truly fascinating creatures. He has been stung a few times, twice because he was tidying the weeds around the hive in shorts, and the other when he is dealing with the hive and accidentally put his hand on a bee. He doesn't wear gloves as he can't feel what he is doing.

      He is chuffed that everyone likes his paintings, he is definitely getting better and better and is all self taught.

      The first veg of the season is always a reason to celebrate....but naughty rabbit, I'm sure there is plenty of grass around. I have to admit sungold are a favourite of mine too but not very practical out here. We have far too many cherry tomatoes this year due to a mix up with the labelling. I love the big, fat, thin skinned almost seedless one my neighbour grows. Next time he gives us some (not that we need any!) I must save some seed if I can find them.

    2. That happened to me last year. I bought two packs of tomato plants, 6 each, one of heirloom cherry type and one of heirloom regulars. But, they all turned out to be cherry size, 12 tomato plants of cherries for one person! And none to make sauce to can or freeze. Boohoo, and nothing to do about it in our short growing season.

  3. Got here at last... from beginning to the present post :)

    A very enjoyable read and I will be popping back with interest to read any further postings. This blog has all the makings of a best selling book.

    We have lovely weather in England at the moment... but I can't wait to get started on my journey to Bulgaria, where I will be looking at a few properties as far apart as the outskirts of Varna to the lakes of Kardzali.

    A great read and I encourage anyone who finds this post to start from the beginning and enjoy the full learning curve that you have been on.

    1. Awww thanks...blushing like crazy.