With the heat and burnt-off pasture of February behind us, we are now enjoying the more moderate feel of autumn in March, although we are still experiencing some hot days.

A good shower (around 100 millimetres) during March revived grass growth, giving the countryside a greener look again. Last year it was the opposite, with a dry November and December and a very wet January, February and March.

Beehives have been quite active working yellow flower (cats ear), gorse and some ivy. Hives are quite heavy with some good patches of brood still. I appreciate this will not be the case in some areas, as beekeepers have reported no crop collected in downland areas, comparable to the drought years of the early eighties. Arable farmers are reporting reduced yields of grain due to excessive rain in November and December.

I have been experimenting with alternative smoker fuel as jute sacking is becoming less available. Wood wool and non-treated shavings from a local woodturner work well with small wood pellets, which are available commercially. This is nothing new but it might help somebody.

- Noel Trezise