We need medicine

I caught up with Wanda on Friday.

She’d managed to inspect the captured swarm the day before, and all seemed hunky-dory. No eggs yet, but you can expect to wait a couple of weeks before a newly mated queen will start laying.

Bee on lavender

We opened up the main hive, and similarly couldn’t see any eggs. More concerning though was the complete absence of a queen. Our hypothesis is that we hadn’t destroyed all the queen cells before the new monarch had worked her way out, which probably means she’d been deposed by the existing workers, and any new queens had swarmed. There might still be a queen somewhere, but it’s not looking good for that hive.

Before I started working, she asked me not to stand on the large plantain that was standing by the hive. That led to a conversation about tea (which you can make from plantain), and the surprising properties of goosegrass—or cleavers, as Wanda knows it.

Afterwards, we inspected the grapevine that she’d bought for her husband a couple of years back. I asked her how she pruned it, and we talked about replacement vs cut-back methods. Then she asked me what I sprayed my vines with, and I said “Nothing,” as they spread over a large area and I’m concerned about the effect on beed.

So she told me about neem oil and its seemingly magical properties. She gave me her recipe for fungicidal/insecticidal use, adding that it worked a charm on broad beans (what is it about broad beans and blackfly?!). She even gave me a sample to try, which I will probably do at the weekend.

We talked about the tinctures she’s made with neem (including one for psoriasis), and other potions she’s cooked up and used to beneficial effect, and I asked if she could write them down and share with me so I could put them on my recipe site. She agreed, so hopefully soon I’ll be able to try some, or at least convince you to test a few, and we can do some experiments.

Because you can still do science, even if you haven’t been in a lab for 15 years.

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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2 Responses to We need medicine

  1. Henry says:

    The way to keep blackfly off your beans is to remove the main growing shoot. Always works for me.

  2. rpg says:

    Interesting idea, Henry. I’ll keep it in mind.

    We harvested the first of them today. Delicious. They’ve never been so good as this year.

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