A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘varroa’

Bees and politics.

A day off which meant finishing of clearing the croft. Left it the other day thinking it was a half hour but three hours later….


Have another pile of wood for burning and then it was down to Lower Toscaig with Dougal and Co. There was a carpet of sea thrift down on the shore, seems to be a burst of flowers around.


Maybe due to the late spring followed by this warm spell and everything is under way at the same time.  Sometimes I think Dougal’s main aim on walks is to get as dirty as possible, unlike his serenity the evening before in the late sunshine.


He looks so innocent but seems he is a good traffic calming influence for cars passing the school, at least with local drivers.



He does let his image slip a little sometimes.Some good summer rain today and it is supposed to be heavy tonight, the garden does need it, but no wind forecast so a day at sea planned for tomorrow.

The Community Council AGM was on tonight with an ordinary meeting to follow. This time the audience was treated to a Chair’s report, a little unfair saying this but there was a previous one that has stuck in a few people’s minds. This involved not using the toilets during high tide…leave the rest to the imagination. A reasonably positive list over the year, weekly food waste collections over the summer,playground equipment installed, ACC taking forward transfer of pier, toilets, installing broadband and hydro scheme, securing graveyard fence from deer intrusion, and ongoing matters such as looking at snowblower replacement and setting up a first responders unit. So this balanced up against the negatives of the continuing doctor/gp recruitment and having to deal with a very unusual petition last autumn as a result of the LAS campaign against the Trust. A fairly positive year looking back. despite often wondering at the time is it worth it.

As a day’s fishing planned tomorrow a “meet the Trustees” days will probably pass me by. This is as a result of last years campaign where the Trustees are trying to make themselves more visible to the community. It would have been better to have maybe held it in the evening and possibly in the Community Hall instead of during the day and at Clachan.This knocks out the younger/working part of the community….the future. But the fact there is a meeting at all is an improvement.

Chatted with Audrey about bees and their health and she said she had lost two of her three hives this spring and the tricky local subject of varroa came up. So my next job is to sprinkle some castor sugar on the bees soon as they groom the sugar off themselves and knock some of the mites off as well. I still have not seen any mites but better safe than sorry.

Not “lost”,Bees and another Lopi

Good to be back on the water again. Monday and yesterday were quiet days where, although you are working hard, you are free from all the stresses and strains of the community. All was as expected and there were no foul ups and a few prawns were caught. On monday I had a bit of an elderly moment when I could not find one of my fleets. I am a bit old-fashioned and do not keep a note in the GPS but write the north ends of the lines down. I was not very clear with my note and thought I had my co-ordinates wrong and could not find the fleet. I tend not to shift my gear too much as there are so many fleets of creels out there now it usually means fouling some one else’s creels. Then hauling down by the Range I came across the “missing” fleet. I had taken it over there before my little break. When you are on your own all day with just Radio4 for company you head off to lots of different places and I started thinking that although I thought the fleet was lost it was n’t really. Existential questions about whether it was ever lost just because you did not know where it was.It was always where it was whether I knew it or not and if you just think something is lost does that mean it is actually lost? It is probably just as well I do the shifts in the Inn to get the balance right and tonight was as good as ever. I cover up the days thoughts with a veneer of conviviality, well meant of course. Full tables of very happy people giving lots of compliments to the staff…..really good as Judith was in Inverness with her Dad. Mind you we only do what she wants us to do and it works.


Monday saw my first sailing boat head up the Sound and this, as opposed to the first swallow, is a sure sign the new summer season is around the corner. Reminds me of a couple of summers ago when a Fair Isle ketch turned up in the Sound and wanted prawns which meant a crew transfer, followed by a cash and produce transaction, all while they were under sail going down the Sound at about 6/7 knots.


Cold still mornings but no snow or rain and the ice on the shore is stretching out on the tides.

Back onto Radio4 and there was a fascinating half hour on beekeeping in the US of A where they are dealing with colony collapse and have varroa and lots of other problems. They transport their hives from florida to the almond groves in California and then back to New England for the berries and back down to Florida. They split hives and have to put more than one queen per hive per season…all sounds very unnatural and forced but it is a multi billion dollar industry with one beekeeper having 80,000 hives, just mind boggling.I have had to delete a couple of silly comments from a chappie down the road telling me I had brought varroa into Applecross, and I thought beekeepers worked well together. The scale of the industry in America is just astonishing but all I want is a couple of healthy hives.


This morning, instead of going fishing I had a day of books as they were interrupting my sleep. Now up to date with the pier by sending off two VAT returns and done bills till the end of January. No pleasure at all and just feel like an unpaid tax collector, and in a months time it will be the same again. The weather was wonderful and the view across the Sound spectacular so was tempted out to the garden for an hour before heading up the road to the Inn. Wearing my latest lopi off the stocks, chose the colours this time and made a German very envious.


Dougal never misses an opportunity to mess about out there. One or two of the more fragile plants will be suffering under his pounding.


Down, but weather saves the Day.

It is just as well the weather is amazing as it feels most things I touch or am involved in either fall apart or are difficult to deal with. Feel a real need to take time out but so much to do and with Spring not far away everything is going to go into overdrive. The weather is making the “problems” not quite so bad, in fact there is not too much harm in a little exaggeration to get it off your chest.

Health still rubbish up to the end of the week but turned out for the Community Company Board Meeting on Saturday evening. I find these employment decisions very hard as you know more than one good candidate for each of the jobs, the main reason for setting up an independent recruiting panel, still stressful. That is the Community Company employing four people on a full and part-time basis. Although this is bound to fluctuate over time these stats for a new and small Company in a fragile Community is pretty impressive. Continuing downside is we are being let down badly by our Filling Station software and I am expecting a complete crash if the rate of failure keeps on the current course.

Good turn out of customers for the Sunday lunch shift, at one stage the reserve ticket was out keeping a table for the group having a pre-food bottle of wine in the Garden. Good to get talking to visitors again, takes your mind of your own “woes”, the Kiltarlity joiner/crofter, the fisherman from the North of Skye and the couple from Strathpeffer meeting the couple from Findhorn. Although it happens on practically every shift it is great to see it happen. Chatting about anything from the price of prawns to the state of shinty in the North, good to work with Jill again, back from South Africa, both behind the bar and both out front with one end …to serve the guests. Judith having headed off to Edinburgh it was us in charge for a few hours. Watched an astonishing rugby match in the evening when I saw Scotland well beaten in just about everything except spirit and the score. Almost felt sorry for the Irish.

Today, it was off fishing, if not for me leaving the engine room light on last week. Off with the batteries yet again,back on charge, but since then although not feeling in the best of form managed a better end to the day. A constructive chat with the sparky , followed by resurrecting our sick car which has been sitting outside the church for a couple of days,  Ruairidh headed off with Chris on his three-day Inner Hebrides kayak trip, taking in Rona, Raasay and Scalpay,


and then it was down to Toscaig to pickup a falling apart armchair for a reupholster in Inverness tomorrow. Dougal came down for a wee wander and there are sick people down here as well. Before Dougal jumped out and tried to make friends with them, the Soay sheep were lazing about on the grass.


Last job of the day was the most apprehensive as it was another first and this was following Audrey’s instructions to treat the hive for varroa mites, a task that was not expected when I picked up the bees last September. Audrey had been so careful not to go outside the area for any bee contact but as the varroa arrived in Plockton she was no longer optimistic that she could escape infestation and last week found that she had some. So today it was my turn to use oxalic acid down the seams of the brood box. This is a derivative of the rhubarb plant and does not build up any resistance in the mites and this seemingly is perfect weather to treat. I am still not used to having bees and was nervous that I had not seen them for weeks on end although knowing they would have been silly to come out in some of the weather we have had. It was great and not a little relieving to see a full, healthy and in the end a quite cross hive. Used up 30 ml on 6 seams so hopefully if there are mites this will control the outbreak. Paper was pushed under the box to see if any mites drop, giving an indication how many are in the hive. When you go through what has happened it turns out it was not a nothing weekend…I just fish a lot less than I used to and am not used to that yet.


I still get a disturbed feel to a few events that are taking place. The selling of the Raasay shooting and fishing rights from under the noses of the crofters for a mere £2,000 extra “profit”. Now some one from Aryshire comes to the island to shoot deer, an activity built up by the crofters over a couple of decades….not progress in my eyes. Good news from The Coigach as we hear they have been awarded funding to buy the Summer Isles Smoke House. But even there is an element of discontent that seems to personalise the discussions and must take the edge of the achievement for the guys working on the project, but we all have elements in every community that seem to react to change. Possibly fear of change itself is a factor and if it was okay to do it a certain way in the past why change it? Also the new Creel Federation is having some fairly major teething issues that desperately need a meeting round a table to sort out…inevitable due to the stroppy nature of inshore fishermen. So an unsettled time but the weather saves the day yet again.IMG_1652

Life is good despite Hassles.

What I like about Applecross is you can be as busy and stressed out as working 70 hours a week in The City, although I think there is far more purpose to life here and the stress is only really in one’s head. Fantastic weather and it is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. Took a day from fishing yesterday to try to sort out my charging problem on the boat and headed over to the Kishorn Yard to pickup a replacement alternator, although back in plenty of time to replace it the flu bug kicks in again with a vengeance. As it turned out I did not have the right size of allen key to get the pulley and fan off so it was a quick trip back over the Hill and not wasted as I watched two engineers get together to loosen the nut. It was on for 8 years. Back out in the engine room today and the prognosis is not that good as the gauges do not indicate I have solved the problem. Now its a check on fuses and connections, which is logically some thing I should have done first but I am not logical. As usual trips over the Hill are combined with other events and Kishorn Port Authority were putting on a display about the possible reopening of the Kishorn Yard, this time for building wind turbines for the expected western offshore wind farms. Not a lot of new information but got talking to one of the environmental consultants and it’s certainly of interest….may even be a tourist attraction!!! Possible 2/300 jobs involved but so much up in the air. As far as I can make out KPA refurbish the site and attract a company in to build the turbines, glad I do not live in that high risk world. As I was waiting for my alternator to arrive at Kishorn I wandered off with Dougal up the lower reaches of Russel Burn and despite feeling very unhealthy Dougal is good company and I do live in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.IMG_1607



Some in my family believe Dougal has little or no intelligence, I strongly disagree although his spaniel tendencies have to be catered for on a fairly regular basis. The Hills of Applecross I think are one of the defining features of this community, an island on the mainland and maybe makes some of us a little awkward and contrary. The Keoch Nose looks majestic from any angle but I am never going to climb it.

Tonight involved a trip out to the Community Hall to see a nature film by Nick Wright and sound by Stephen Deutsch. Very enjoyable and they are planning a film on Applecross that will involve some of the contraries as well as the wealth  of nature that we live amongst. To get there meant a lie down , a 20 minute shower and breakfast, first food for two days apart from the small bowl of veg soup at the Inn but it was well worth it and Nick is coming out on the boat for a day’s fishing, health and alternator permitting. Today’s trip over the Hill was combined with nipping into Lochcarron for a box of scallops. Really bad news on the bee front is that Audrey has found that she has varroa in her hives and has kindly given me the organic as possible solution and instructions to treat. A job for this weekend, Wandered over to the hive today and nice to see some activity. Such a shame as Audrey had tried so hard to keep her hives mite free and that was the reason for me waiting to get bees locally so I would not have to deal with varroa. As Sean has once again fixed our broadband it’s a wee spell on iplayer to catch up on Spiral and Dancing on the Edge.

Tag Cloud

Wee Ginger Dug

Biting the hand of Project Fear

Beyond the Horizon

Commentary and Sustainability Policy Analysis from Dr Calum Macleod

Lenathehyena's Blog

IT'S NOT ROCKET SALAD.........in the Land o' cakes and brither Scots

Scottish Communities CAN

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Beyond the Bloomin' Heather

A critical discussion of the history and politics behind Scotland's most beautiful landscapes

Jean Urquhart

following dissolution of parliament this site will move to jeanurquhart.com

Derek Bateman Broadcaster1

An ongoing dialogue

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Small Scales

fisheries and ocean conservation in Atlantic Canada


e-learning, networking, and the UHI


It's got a backbeat. You can't lose it. If you wanna dance with me.

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Jessica's Nature Blog


Shawndra Miller

Giving voice to the world’s remaking

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.


Just another WordPress.com site

Life at the end of the road

the trials and tribulations of an accidental crofter


A Highland GP on life the universe and anything...

Auld Acquaintance

Scottish Independence