Battles with Nature

This week has been one of contrasts, good news followed with bad, followed with good. Sometimes we always seem to be battling against nature, and then rewarded by her huge acts of kindness.

A few weeks ago our bees deserted their two hives. We only got them last May and everything seemed to be going to schedule; then one and a few days later the other left home en mass. Our supplier’s theory is that they had a mite (still trying to translate Varroa) and they left to see if they could shake it. Then, this week, when we went to pack the empty hives up until we try again in the spring, we found a few hundred bees had returned to one of the hives. I can’t imagine that such a small number will survive the winter, but we’ve got them a sugar feeder and crossing our fingers.

Our next insect encounter was with the dreaded Rhinoceros Beetle that is systematically destroying so many of the palm trees around the Mediterranean. The beetle is an inch long and up to 2000 new beetles can emerge from an infested palm. Ever since our neighbours lost one of their trees we have been diligent, and it was only an impromptu visit to Trullo Solari when we noticed some drooping fonds on one of our two palms. We returned that day with chain saw and insecticide – our first use in six years of organic gardening – and fought back. As we trimmed the lower branches and sprayed the poison we could hear what sounded like a Doctor Who alien attack as the big bugs munched through our palm. Luckily the next day we returned and the munching had stopped, along with the satisfying sight of dead beetles. Hopefully we’ve saved the palm, although it has a pretty severe short back and sides.

Otherwise we’re ripening pumpkins, cauliflower heads are poking through and the citrus trees are coming in to bloom. We’ve also been gifted a dozen raspberry canes and transplanted some beautiful yellow flowers from our neighbour’s garden that hopefully the bees will love – either this year or next.

We’ll never win the war, but I think the week’s battles went well.

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