Leaf cutter bee

Bees come in many shapes and sizes. There are over 250 different types in the UK alone, from the familiar honeybee and bumblebee to the not so familiar, like the leaf cutter bee.

leafcutter bee 1A couple of days ago I was in the utility room, when I noticed a bee fly into the fold of a newspaper.

After watching for a few minutes, I saw the bee make repeated journeys, with small pieces of vegetation in tow.




leafcutter bee 4

leafcutter bee 2A few more flights later and I caught her on camera.

A leaf cutter bee was taking up residence.

I carefully opened the paper to see this amazing tubular nest.


leafcutter bee 3I left her in peace for the night, with the back door open so that she could fly early in the morning.

By the time I got up, the nest was sealed and she was away to find her next site.

i couldn’t leave the paper on the shelf, so I carefully cut the edge of the paper off and placed it inside an (unoccupied) nest box hanging in one of our trees.

If all goes well, in a couple of weeks the new bee should be emerging and ready to go on to pollinate, and build more nests.

Bees are truly amazing insects. We couldn’t do without them and should do all we can to help protect them.



Mildred’s minor surgery – part 2

This is part 2 of Mildred’s minor surgery. A quick update really.

Having found a good old fashioned paint shop that offered a matching service, we headed off with Mildred’s bonnet.

austin seven restoration 5 austin seven restoration 4






We left the bonnet with them for a couple of hours and picked up the bonnet plus 3 spray cans and a touch up pot.

I am extremely pleased with the result of the painting. Whilst my preparation work was ‘good amateur’, rather than professional standard, the colour match is close on perfect and I am quite pleased with my spray painting. Mildred now has a secure spare wheel hub with 3 welded on studs. She is ready for her next outing.

As a reminder in pictures, this is how it began, and ended:

Austin seven restoration

austin seven restoration hub







austin seven restoration 6



Echium honey

echiumOur local farmer is growing echium this year, the first time it has been grown in the area.

It looks lovely, a bright blue flower, with some white flowers mixed in.

It is in the borage family and we are looking forward to seeing what the honey is like.


Interestingly the pollen is very dark, almost black. Bees collect pollen and use it as the basis of the carbohydrate food they feed to larvae as they develop into fully formed bees. They carry it in ‘pollen sacks’, in reality a group of hairs on the back of their legs used to stick lumps of pollen to.

The pictures below show yellow oil seed rape pollen and the dark echium pollen.

honeybee pollen







me with supersWe have a couple of very strong colonies this year and have added some empty supers, to make sure that they have pure echium honey as it comes in.

Come back in a few weeks, when we have collected the honey, to hear what it is like and perhaps try some yourself.

Mildred’s minor surgery

Readers of my twitter feed may have been a little confused by pictures of Mildred’s minor surgery. I will explain.

mildred spare wheelMildred’s spare wheel is screwed to a hub, which is attached to the back of her bodywork. The hub is clamped through her bodyshell to a support bracket on the inside, which is attached to the ladder frame (hope you are keeping up).

When preparing her for the wedding run a couple of weeks ago, I noticed cracks between the edge of the hub and the bodywork. Investigation showed that the inner spare wheel support had, in an earlier restoration, been cut away from the ladder frame, reducing its ability to support the weight of the wheel, which was left hanging from just the bodywork. Over time this had stressed and cracked the bodywork and rusted through the rim. Worse case scenario was that the wheel would, under its own weight and a few bumps in the road, literally pull away from the car, taking a piece of body with it.

The solution was not overly complicated, just fiddly and time consuming. Internally I rebuilt the missing section of the inner support. A bit of simple sheet metal work was needed. This ensured that the wheel is no longer simply hanging on the thin bodywork, it now has a direct support bracket to the ladder frame. I then tack welded the hub back to the shell to stop it cracking away again.

austin seven restoration hubWhilst I was working around the hub I decided to tackle a job I have had on the list for a long time. One of the 3 studs used to secure the spare wheel was loose and in not quite the right place.

I suspected a bodge, and found one. The support area around the stud had cracked and been roughly held in place with filler. This was never going to work. This is what was left after I had removed the filler.


Austin seven restorationWith the paint stripped back, and the welder out anyway, I welded it securely back in place, the correct position this time (the lower left of the 3 studs).


This is what it all looked like with the hub secured to the body and the stub welded up, ready for finishing.



The final job was a skim of fine filler to level it off. This is how filler should be used, not as a bodge to hide bad work. A coat of etch primer was applied and rubbed back to show minor imperfections, which were refilled and primed again.

austin seven restoration      IMG_20160704_110851

That just about brings you up to date.

The problem I now have is finding matching paint.  It is not possible to pop down to Halfords, since I have no idea what specific colour was used in the 80s when she was restored.

I need to visit a paint supplier with specialised equipment to measure and reproduce the paint mix for me. At least the repair is safe and protected so we can head out on the road again, albeit with a grey bottom!