Of course, this being the island, the standing around and blethering went on for another 20 minutes, so I entertained myself by scooping a cup of tea and a home-made Empire biscuit from the attending WI ladies. One should always keep in with the WI ladies - you never know when you will need an emergency home-knitted matinee jacket gift or a crocheted jam jar cover. I'm deadly serious.
The little hall fairly buzzed with animated conversation. As I ploughed through to the obligatory leaflet table, I spotted the usual suspects: the guy in charge of recycling, some lovely posh ladies with large gardens, nut-faced wee gardeners, new agey big chunky necklace wearing types, the professional Grant Getters* and a smattering of normal types, like m'self.
I hoovered up the free leaflets and, ever mindful that it was a totally free event, shelled out £6 for a booklet on Beekeeping for Beginners. Duly laden with stuff, I procured myself a comfy seat.
Oh, I did try to break into some conversations, but I'm absolutely shit at small talk with strangers, so I gave up and sat down. Hestia is not in a 'gang' on the island. In fact, I think I shall start a gang for those not in a gang; for those who go to these events and sit alone, smiling at people, hoping that someone will graciously grant them access to their gang for the duration of the small-talk time. Hesetia's cakecrumb-smeared mouth and desperate clutch of leaflets must have marked her out as Someone Not To Talk To.
It's that or my reputation is getting around....
Anyway, the white-overall clad bee keeper started his talk. It seemed straightforward enough - tip up at the Church Hall, sign up for a proper bee-keeping course, get bees, save the world.
Turns out it's not quite as easy as that.
First of all, you need expert tuition. Of which there is none on the island. So we'd need the guy from Ayr to come up every Saturday for 6 weeks. That's going to be at least £600 for starters, I'd say. That's not a problem - it was a big group, charging £60 per person for a 6-week course should cover costs and net them a little cash to go towards their Verroa Mite Strips.
The BIG problem is that, although the media is telling us that We Should Keep Bees, there's damned few of the little buggers for sale. And your starter bag of bees is £150. That's without a hive or the fancy white NASA suit or anything. Start up costs for equipment are, I reckon, about £600.
The lady from the Co-op was there and she said that they might be able to help out a communal bee group with some core funding. I slid a glance at the Grant Getters, they were smiling. My heart sank. They are nice people, but....oh, don't get me started.....
We learned lots of fascinating facts about bees, which I will not trip out here - other than to say, did you know that honey is actually bee sick? Me neither.
I got a taste of the most divine sick known to man - Lemon Honey. My pancreas went into meltdown as the tea-spoonful of daffodil-yellow honey burst into sweet lemons and hot summer days on my tongue. I really must see if I can procure some on the intertubes....
As I got ready to buzz off, the Grant Getters were deep in conversation with the lady from the Co-op. I wonder whether my offer of a free website for the group will be taken up, or whether the Grant Getters will charge some faceless grant-giving body £500 for one?
I shall not hold my breath.
*you know the ones....the people who know how to