[Note: this is the old blog. The latest cactus-related stuff on the new blog is http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/05/cactus.php -W]
Every now and again the cactus that lives in a sunny spot at the top of our stairwell (just next to the sadly unwashed window...) flowers. The flowerings are rare - less than once a year - and suddenly I notice that the scruffy old dusty plant is briefly beautiful. perhaps I should sent it back to its native desert to live with JF...
The plant has a history: it was given to my grandad by my uncle; both are now dead, so the cactus is in memory of both of them.
Meanwhile, I got called out to a late swarm of bees, at the local Big House (well, the ex-rectory). Here they are:
A bit scrawny for a swarm. The dog in the background didn't quite know what was going on. Anyway, into a box they went and I found someone who wanted them. We have a surfeit of green plastic kitchen waste bins around, which make nice bee-proof containers, so (after sellotaping it shut) I was able to walk into their house, swinging the bucket around (carefully...) saying "anyone want a box o' bees?" and the children put their ears to it to hear the bees buzzing.
The next day the people at the house gave me some of their eggs, and a bottle of wine, in exchange for clearing the bees for them. No one has ever done that before! Normally, its not quite clear whether I'm doing them a favour or not: they are grateful for the bees removal, but they kind of suspect that they are my bees in the first place. Which, sometimes, they are.