|Does my bum look big in this?|
Technically, it's not my hive at all and it's not even in my garden, but to all intents and purposes, the bees that were delivered to the island yesterday were mine for a whole day. And I think I luff them as much as I now seem to luff Kate Middleton.
At 10.45am yesterday morning, I stood under the frantic whirring of Jenny, the wind turbine, feeling that the rise and fall of the rotors' speed pretty much captured my own bursts of panic/calm as I waited in the increasing heat for the bees to be delivered.
Soon Tony and Elizabeth from the Ayrshire Beekeepers Association pulled up in their 4x4 and threw open the doors with a smile. A couple of bees flew out of the car behind them.
'Oh the bees are loose!' I stammered, trying not to sound too B-movie starlet (Bee movie?!)
'Oh they'll not hurt you, they just want out the window,' replied Tony blithely. The escapee bees hovered around us, confusion etched on their tiny bee faces.
'What's their problem?' I asked, resisting the temptation to bat them away with my hand (wanting to appear cool and down with the bees, yanno). 'They are orientating themselves on the car park', said Tony shaking my hand.
'How will they find their way to where we are going to site the bees, I wondered.
'They won't find it - they're a long way from their home, that's them lost.'
I gazed at the tiny black bodies wending their wobbling flight down the car park, little wings beating twenty to the dozen and realised with a pang that they were destined To Die. Cold and alone. In the car park. I felt terribly sad for them and resolved to go back to the car park with a jam jar and catch them on Monday morning.
Soon we three were suited up and Tony and Elizabeth carried the sealed hive full of hot, angry and hungry bees up the path to their new home. I didn't have trousers for my suit, so I had to borrow a very fetching pair of waterproofs from the Bute Produce chap and tuck the half suit inside it.
We looked like a nuclear accident, complete with angry humming.
Tony wasn't very happy with the location - too close to the road and not well enough protected by fencing or planting - but it was too late to do anything about a new location, we had to go ahead.
The entrance to the hive was unblocked and out they came in their hundreds. Reader, it was absolutely fascinating to watch them orientating themselves to their new location. I forgot to take pictures I was so engrossed. Some bees sat on the entrance board and pointed their bottoms into the air, making sure that the pheromones for the hive were in the air to help the flyers get home.
And then we went away and left them for 3 hours......
It turns out that lovely churchgoing people are not easily appalled by shelves of books on paganism and Tarot, especially when I pointed out that I also had a shelf on Theology too. Elizabeth fastened onto one of my books that she hadn't seen before, so I gave it to her. Bee people and book people are generous souls. And now I was both.
At half three we returned and from then until 5pm I was led through the care of bees and how to inspect the hive. What a lot to remember! Picking up the forms with the bees hanging all over them was a bit nerve-wracking to start off with because they crawl over your gloves and up your arms - but if you're well protected, you need not fear. But these guys were docile and seem to be very nice natured. Even when I sort of dropped on of the forms back into the hive and they all seemed to rise up into the air, I wasn't frightened of them at all.
Last night I dreamed of bees. Their humming seems to have replaced my tinnatus. Either that or I might have wasps building a nest in the chimney....
This morning Sonshine and I walked up to the hive, using the road and stood right behind it. There were loads of bees around, but none of them came near us. The wall is very low when you are standing on the road side of it, and it would be easy to just jump over and sling a rock into the hive or kick it over.
Not that there are many people walk up and down that bit of road, it has to be said.
The best news of the day was when Tony and Elizabeth came back to mine for lunch and Tony declared 'why have we just put bees up there at Bute Produce when this place is perfect?'
I have tapped out the bad news to Tartarus in an e-mail:
'I want my own bees.'
Any of you got experience in beekeeping? Or chickens (they're coming this summer!) Anything that I need to know about living with bees? Could it be more prickly than living with Tartarus?
Have a great Monday!
PS - yes, I've been up with the jam jar to the car park already today.