Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

Swaddling bee; baby bee; bee abortion

Until we decided to become bee keepers and invest in a garden beehive, the only contact I had had with bees was purely observation from a distance.

Insects are the most successful of all life forms. Insects of all types, have been on the Earth much longer than most other life forms. They have changed little over the years and they are immeasurably successful because they always place the entire group as a priority over their own life and wellbeing. When living in a group or colony they reside in some type of nest and they have one purpose and that is to breed.

Since having the beehive, I have been privileged to experience the wonderful richness of the life of the honey bee. Many of the things that I have seen in this secret world of bees I have found to be both intoxicating and magical.

During the Autumn, a worker bee (the nurse bees are the younger worker bees that are not let out of the hive – the female bees just after hatching are referred to as the nurse bees) flew just in front of me. She was carrying a package with her front four legs. She gently laid the package down on the path, then proceeded to slowly turn the little bundle left and then right. She did this a few times, then with one of her front legs she softly poked it. She turned it over then back. Eventually she flew away and left the little bundle on the path. Curiously I went over to it and found that it was a swaddling bee – a bee that had been pulled out of the brood chamber – probably it had died in the cell. I picked it up on a sheet of paper so that I wouldn’t damage it and checked it over under a microscope. It appeared to have no wings. I was amazed by the tenderness of the worker bee and the way that she appeared to double-check for signs of life or to see whether a mistake had been made but she had to eventually give in.

Life is both beautiful and cruel.

Swaddling bee

Swaddling bee (the baby bee formed in the brood chamber)

Swaddling bee close-up

Close-up of swaddling bee baby

Swaddling bee - under side

Swaddling bee – under side

Swaddling bee - legs in close-up

Swaddling bee – close-up of leg

Swaddling bee - first picture of swaddling bee

The first picture that I took of a swaddling bee within a couple of minutes from being abandoned

Swaddling bee - head

The head of a swaddling bee

Swaddling bee - close-up of flesh

Close-up of the swaddling bee flesh

Swaddling bee - close-up detail of the skin

Detail of the skin and hair forming on the swaddling bee

Swaddling bee

The swaddling bee – aborted from the brood chamber and carried some distance away by a worker or nurse bee

O’er the hills and far away ….

Tom, he was a piper’s son -
  he used to play when he was young;
the only tune that he could play -
  was “O’er the hills and far away.”      

*O’er the hills and a great way off             (*over)
  the wind shall blow my *top knot off.     (*bonnet)

Tom with his pipe made such a noise -
  that he pleased both the girls and boys.
They all stopped to hear him play -
  “O’er the hills and far away.”

O’er the hills and a great way off
  the wind shall blow my *top knot off.

O’er the hills and o’er the dales,
  through England to the coast of Wales;
We’ll follow the tune as we march today
  o’er the hills and far away.

O’er the hills and a great way off
  the wind shall blow my *top knot off.

Tom the Piper's son

Note: This is an old English nursery rhyme – Author unknown. There are several versions that are all sung to the same tune which originates from the early 1700’s.




The above music sheet and further information is available from Flutetunes.com which offers free flute sheet music.

My father taught himself to play the penny whistle when he was a young boy. As he grew older he also learnt how to play the mouth organ, concertina and piano. He was self taught and could play by ear which was a very magical experience for me.

This particular rhyme was one that I learnt to recite and also sing when I was very young. When I was eventually taught to read, I remember being very surprised and quite saddened that the rhyme didn’t, in fact, begin with: “Tommy was a piper’s son.” Perhaps Tommy had decided to leave and go ‘Over the hills and far away!’

Christmas animated gifs

Happy Christmas Everyone may the joy of the season bring health, happiness, joy, pleasure, understanding, tolerance and love to us all.

Here are some Christmas animated gifs to brighten up your days and nights ..

Christmas Tree Animated Gif photo ChristmasTreeAnimatedGif.gif
Christmas Tree Twinkle Animated Gif photo ChristmasTreeTwinkleAnimatedGif.gif
Christmas Evening Tree Twinkle Animated Gif photo ChristmasTreeEveningTwinkleAnimatedGif.gif
Christmas Ball Animated Gif photo ChristmasBallAnimatedGif.gif
Christmas Ball Twinkle Animated Gif photo ChristmasBallTwinkleAnimatedGif.gif
Christmas 'Happy' Ball Animated Gif photo HappyChristmasBallAnimatedGif.gif

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

May peace and contentment fill your heart and love be the food of your soul


Citric scald syndrome

Over the last few years we have been advised that there is nothing more essential to our health than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Fruit and vegetable consumption has increased because of this statement and yet in many instances good health has started to crumble. The problem may well be simple. We are all individual with different needs. Some people adapt well to consuming raw fruit and vegetables whilst others stutter and somehow always feel below par.

I have always struggled with salads and so simply stopped eating them. After all, I ate cooked vegetables and raw fruits so that was surely all right.

Fruit is a peculiar food item. It requires separate enzymes to digest it. The body often has difficulties making a good job of this process and the result is a mixture (depending on the fruit) of indigestion, bloating, wind, burping, acid reflux or other uncomfortable reactions that occur usually an hour-and-a-half or more after consumption.

Oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes or variations of citric fruits cause a separate issue. After consumption of foods containing citric acid some people experience a scalding or burning sensation of the soft tissues. This may be in the tissues of the nose lining, the throat, oesophagus, stomach, intestines, bladder, urethra and anus. It is more common when people have ingested a citrus fruit or drink over a period of two or more days. This is citric scald syndrome, it appears to be harmless but extremely uncomfortable to the person experiencing it. It heals when citrus fruit has been excluded from the diet for a few days. It does however return when these delicious fruits are resumed in the daily diet requiring a person to eat these particular fruits with caution.


Citric scald syndrome

Citric fruits causing Citric Scald Syndrome

Pet garden statue

Years ago the only statues available for the average family garden were gnomes. The name given to the little pixies that are said to protect the area of land where you plant and toil with love and joy, your garden, is gnome. GNOME means ‘guarding naturally over Mother Earth.’ Although no garden is really safe without their own special gnome it is also nice to have a few other garden statues to add your own special character to the little plot of soil where you spend so much time making it look so beautiful.

I have a couple of gnomes – nothing special but they watch over my work. Suddenly I felt it would be lovely to introduce a new statue. As yet that very special statue has not been found but whilst I’ve been looking I found what is often called a garden pet statue and I thought it looked so realistic that it would be a lovely small addition to the flower border. So here is a picture of it the ‘pet garden tortoise statue.’

Pet tortoise garden statue Pet statue tortoise

Tortoise statue  Tortoise and bees

Garden statue of a tortoise

Why we should all have a statue of a garden gnome – because of its wonderful meaning: it is a guardian of the garden as the word GNOME means ‘guarding naturally over Mother Earth.’

Retired and lonely website where people simply talk

Only a person with a whiter than white reputable background could pull off a wonderful idea such as Silverline. This is the website designed for people who are now retired and in desperate need to talk to another person. Someone who will listen, someone who will respond with the human touch. This website offers them someone to give them time and friendship on the other end of the telephone line.

Silverline is the brainchild of Esther Rantzen (a person who acts on a need, an angel to both young and old), who finding herself with the need to talk to someone, came up with this wonderful idea and slowly developed it into realisation. It offers a lifeline to the lonely. A voice to those who never see or speak to anyone day-after-lonely-day and most of all the means of being able to have a conversation with someone without any fear. It has its own free telephone number so people who need to talk to someone, do not have to worry about excessive telephone bills.


If you do need a friend to talk to then please do visit the site and see what it can offer you. It is backed by a lovely lady. This is her website, this is your website: Silverline

Free telephone line open 24 hours every day: 0800 4 70 80 90



Retired and lonely Retired and lonely people finding friendship and someone to talk to ..

“Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.”

Who is Esther Rantzen’s this is what Wikipedia advises


Please visit the Silverline website for more details: http://www.thesilverline.org.uk/

A little bit of light-hearted fun – Dr Who and the TARDIS

The BBC have produced a very special link for all Dr Who fans to enter the Tardis of the Time Lord and have an adventure. For anyone with a little bit of fun in their hearts here is the link:




Gypsy skipping song – My mother said, I never should .. Play with the Gypsies .. ƸӜƷ

“My mother said,
I never should ..
Play with the Gypsies
In the wood; ƸӜƷ
If I did, she would say,
Naughty little girl to disobey.
Your hair shan't curl,
Your shoes shan't shine,
You gypsy girl,
You shan't be mine.
And my father said
If I did,
He'd rap my head
With the teapot lid.
The wood was dark,
The grass was green, ƸӜƷ
In came Sally
With a tambourine. ೋ
I went to sea -
No ship to get across,
So I paid ten shillings       (shillings pronounced shillins)
For a blind white horse,  (horse pronounced hoss)
I up on his back,
And was off in a crack -
Sally, tell my mother
I never shall come back.”



When I was a little girl my favourite pastime was skipping. Sometimes it would be with a skipping rope and sometimes it would be without. My mother was forever telling me to stop as I would hold her hand and skip alongside of her as we walked up the very long lane to what was known as the corner shop.

My mother would tell me mainly the first part of this particular skipping rhyme and if I stayed outside the corner shop which meant I could climb in the very old Yew tree, she would wag her finger and say very firmly - ‘now don’t you go talking to any strangers.’  Talking to strangers or going off with strangers was the very worst thing any child could do and it was every parent’s worst fear!

Polly “Are you listening Polly?”

Drone and worker bees

Today I went to the hive to make a quick inspection and quite by chance, as if awaiting me I spied a drone and shortly afterwards a busy worker arrived. This gave me a chance to take a few quick pictures so that the size of each could be appreciated.

Drone 1

Drone 2

Drone - large

  The Drone – large eyes and rounded bottom – no sting

Drone and worker 1

Drone and worker 2

Drone and worker 3  

Drone and worker 4

The Drone alongside the Worker Bee

A little secret fact: all worker bees are female and if the Queen of the hive is placed in peril and dies the younger worker bees will become fertile and lay eggs. These worker bees have never mated and so any offspring that is produced will develop into male bees (bees that are drones). Drones do not have stings, they cannot harm anyone. The more healthy a hive is the less likelihood there will be for any or at least more than a few of these drones will be spotted. 

Adam’s apples

The simple compost that finds its way onto our verges, rest areas and pull-ins that line the roads are producing some very interesting finds. Every time someone either tosses or throws an apple core from a passing vehicle, if the core bounces onto the ground then many of the apple pips or seeds germinate and form new apple trees. Each pip produces a slightly different tree to the parent apple tree plant. Some are sweeter, some more tart but each one of these new seedlings offer the chance for a new variety of apple tree to sprout.

Commercial trees are almost a clone as they are all grafted plants onto wild strong root stock. Although this method is suitable for supermarkets so that people are able to buy all of one variety of apple at a time it means that much natural wealth of goodness and taste of our planet is lost to us.

A whole new group of people who call themselves forages are now taking the opportunity to gather these free offerings to give them a wider choice in their fruit bowls.

You must admit that it is very tempting to take an apple core from your favourite apple and push it gently into the ground and see what emerges from these humble beginnings.


Baby apple copy

Creating new apple varieties by planting apple pips

It is alleged that figs were once called apples and that the fig tree was the tree of knowledge. So Eve tempted Adam not with an apple but with a fig. Figs are low in calories and contain manganese, potassium, calcium and Vitamin B6 as well as being a good source of fibre. It is also believed that figs are quite good for the eyesight.

Difficulty: difficulty rhyme

When I was a little girl my mother would often think of ways of helping me to remember things and one that is probably the best are little rhymes.

The English language is full of pitfalls but there are many ways of remembering information that are probably no longer taught today that have always stood me in good stead. The difficulty rhyme being one of my most favourites:

Mrs D copy

here’s how it goes ..

Mrs D,
Mrs I,
Mrs Ffi,
Mrs C,
Mrs U,
Mrs Lty.


Mrs D, Mrs, Mrs Ffi, Mrs C, Mrs U, Mrs Lty  .. which of course spells difficulty.


Mrs D copy

The rush to Winter

The bees are almost crashing into the hive at the moment to pack as much pollen as possible and add to their Winter stores. There are still several colours and types of pollen being collected and it is fascinating to watch each worker leave the hive and see which pathway into the sky she takes. Once a bee has a favourite direction they appear to choose the same route. This only became obvious through observing my white hourglass ladies which still appear to be finding their precious Himalayan Balsam flowers.
Here are two videos of the honey bees:

Health boost

There is one thing that I have learnt over the years and that is the magical method of an instant health boost. When I became compromised with eating grains this one health means was lost to me in an instant and the alternative was to become a ‘pill popper’ which is not a natural existence at all.

Every system of the body requires one form or another of Vitamin B to help it function at optimum levels which in turn helps to sweep away a deluge of unpleasant symptoms from vile boring deep down chronic aches like fibrositis which often is called fibromyalgia, neuralgia, sciatica, back pains, hip pains, leg pains, hand pains, feet pains, etc to problems with skin, hair, nails and so on. In fact the health range that this series of Vitamins touch is virtually endless.

I used to take Brewer’s Yeast every day. It cured all kinds of issues from a deep bedded sciatic pain that would shoot the entire length of my leg and make me stand still in my tracks to crunchy brittle nails that wouldn’t grow and would continually break and peel. Added to this was dry patches and pimples on my face.

My grandmother had always advocated the use of yeast but this is something that could only be taken by those who have not yet found that grains just do not work for their health. Yeast mostly, if not always relies on sugars often produced through grains to make it grow. More and more people are now finding grains an issue and a cause of long-seated health complications. Highly processed sugars are often produced using grains such as wheat and barley and may cause recurring health issues as well as the loss of the feeling of well being. It is therefore commonsense to avoid foods where highly processed sugars have been used in any food production including yeasts.

I have now found a condiment yeast that is not grown on any form of grain and is rich in all of the nourishing B Vitamins. It tastes lovely and doesn’t leave any after flavours in the mouth. This condiment yeast comes in small dry flakes and therefore may be sprinkled onto virtually all meals. It is called “Nutritional Yeast Flakes.” The version that I have chosen to buy and use has added Vitamin B12 and Zinc but there are other versions that are the B Complex vitamins only. I thought it wise to have these two additional added items because B12 prevents mouth ulcers/canker sores and Zinc protects against catching viruses and I hate catching colds, etc!

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Nutritional Yeast Flakes in a pot

Nutritional Yeast Flakes (primarily Saccharomyces Cerevasiae) grown on enriched purified molasses. It is grown under controlled conditions to ensure that it is free from candida albicans yeast it is also free from genetically modified organisms. This particular yeast is grown in Estonia.

English fairies of the garden

The beautiful Large White butterfly, which is generally known as the ‘Cabbage White’ butterfly flutters in such a way that it resembles a fairy and so is sometimes called the English fairy. Both the Large White and the Small White, which generally dominate the butterfly scene of the early warm days in Spring were very sparse this year. So late did they make their entrance that they are still hatching and there are now caterpillars that appear to be transfixed in a perpetual state and unable to develop into a chrysalis.

Caterpillar of the Large White Butterfly - Pieris brassicae Caterpillar of the Large White Butterfly - Pieris brassicae - close-up Catterpillar of the Cabbage White - Large White - English Fairy - Pieris brassicae

The Caterpillar - Pieris brassicae - of the Large White - Cabbage White - English Fairy Butterfly  The Caterpillar of The Large White Butterfly - The Cabbage White Butterfly - The English Fairy Butterfly -

The Caterpillar of The Large White Butterfly, The Cabbage White Butterfly, English Fairy - Pieris brassicae

The caterpillar on the leaf above has now not moved for three whole days!

White Mohawk bees; white hour-glass head bees; last of the Mohican bees

The other week on my quick daily inspection of the hive I found that the hive was being visited by bees that I had never in my life seen before. They had white hour-glass patterns on the top of their heads. I expected that there would be an altercation or two. Maybe the drones would appear and push these strangers away or perhaps my lovely ladies would gather around these new comers and make short shrift of them sending them back to where they had come from. In fact not one bee took the slightest notice of these white-headed bees. I wondered if they had come from another hive. Perhaps our hive was more attractive to them. Each day I carried on my inspection of the entrance and found more and more of these white hour-glass honey bees going in and coming out of the hive. They were industrious bringing back pollen packed basketfuls. I knew that I had to find out more information about them and chose to Google to find out what they were. I could find nothing even on the bee forums. The nearest answer was sugar coating from sugar water feed. Our bees however had no sugar water, the weather was hot and sunny and the bees required no extra feed so this wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

I did eventually find out that these were our bees and these markings were caused through their tops being dyed by the pale white pollen from Himalayan Balsam, which lines the water courses, streams, brooks, creeks, canals and rivers in the area. Although the pollen dyes the tops of the bees where there is a small amount of fur on the back of the bees heads, it is harmless. I am also advised that if the pollen from Himalayan Balsam is found and collected by honey bees it makes the most superb honey.

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 10

White hour-glass headed bees

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 1

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 2

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 3

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 4

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 5

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 6

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 7

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 8

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 9


… and here is the culprit the flower with the white pollen that dyes the top of the fur heads of the honey bees in a beautiful hour-glass shape or Mohawk .. at least I have found the solution to my white headed bees!!

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan Balsam wild flowers