Monday, 22 June 2009

The secret life of beekeepers

A swarm of bees in May
is worth a load of hay
A swarm in June
is worth a silver spoon
A swarm in July
ain't worth a fly

I thought there were a lot of bees on Mrs Jones's geraniums at the NGS Open Gardens event this weekend. "Oooh," I thought. "John will be pleased." But I didn't realise quite how pleased until this morning, when I opened my monthly BeeMail.

John, for those of you who don't already know, is our local bee man. What he don't know about bees, ain't worth a swarm in July – heck, the man even makes his own hives. For the last couple of years he's been trying to establish a local bee colony, but as with the course of all things true-love related, it hasn't gone altogether smoothly. It was a bit of a struggle, I gather, finding somewhere for the bees to live – surprisingly, not all that many people seemed to be all that keen on having honey-producing yellow-and-black-striped neighbours who buzzed a lot. Monthly BeeMail updates have have featured details of some of John's ingenious ways of outwitting the dastardly varroa destructor mite (a swift dusting of icing sugar, apparently), the perils of pesticides and tricking the queen into laying eggs. Anyway, this month's news was that John had collected two swarms - without wearing gloves, apparently – one which looked as though it was on the brink of death following a stormy weekend and another found hanging from the roof of a bird feeder in Chippenham.

Over 5,000 bees in the second colony, he reckons. I wonder how many jars of honey that translates into...

My other news is that Brown Dog has a new hairstyle - very Didier Drogba, don't you think? No, he hasn't been to an expensive salon – I may be daft, but I'm not that daft. His new orange ball rolled accidentally into the river this afternoon and, being heavy, it sank to the bottom. It took him a while to realise I wasn't going to wade in and fish it out for him, and slightly longer to work out that he had to hold his breath if he was going to dive for it, but persistence payed off in the long run. The hairstyle was a bonus.


  1. Aw! Brown Dog's hair looks amazing. And well done to John, battling to collect swarms without gloves, so that less hardy souls like me can enjoy honey with their toast in the morning.

  2. Please send details of beemails. I need some stripy news.