Watching the hen and chicks gives me so much pleasure. It’s nice to have specific breeds, but I get a lot from raising our own mixed breed – as the results are so variable. We have four of our own out of the fourteen, and they are all welsummerxmarans of some sort. One is completely black with a brown face, one black with white edges to the feathers that are emerging, a fawny coloured one and a grey one.
Chickens seem to have three stages of colour, the chick fluff, then the feathers that grow out – which can be markedly different, and then somewhere as they become adults there is another change. So the fawn coloured chicks, became speckled light brown chicks, and eventually red cockerels. So what we shall get out of our mixed breed is a guess at this stage, but my favourite, and I always have one, is the little grey chick – the feathers are growing out grey too, and I suspect it will be ‘blue’ like the blue maran that was probably it’s mother.
The best thing about watching the chicks at the moment is when they jump on her back and ride around, and then she goes through the pop-hole into the house part, and they get scraped off and land in fluffy chick heaps.
The runner beans are setting and a couple of days of nice weather has brought out lots of bees to the flowers. I noticed a lot of the bees were not entering the flower frontwise, but instead making a hole in the end and attacking it from there.
I remembered something about this – a bad habit in bees leading to lack of pollination.
But according to the royal horticultural society, this is normal:
Short-tongued bumblebees cannot reach nectar from the front of the flower, and so bite a hole in the flower base to gain access. This allows bees to get at the nectar but, because they do not come into contact with the reproductive parts of the flower, such bees play no part in pollination. There is no way to prevent this but sufficient bees usually visit the flowers in the conventional way for a good crop if other factors, such as water availability and temperatures are favourable.
We seem to have lots of beans setting, so I guess if they fail now its not because of the way the bees are feeding, but we don’t have enough of the right, long tongued bean lovers!