What can I tell you about bees? Well I know more than I used to, but I also know that it’ll never be enough; they are complicated creatures with whims of their own, all we can hope for is to keep up. I also know that bees don’t come easy, oh no indeed. If you want bees you are going to have to work, you’re going to have to plan, you are going to have to call people many months in advance, chase around buying all sorts of weird equipment and you are going to have that nervous feeling, the whole time, that at the end of this process you are going to have a hell of a lot of bees.
And you’d be right.
There they are, two nucs (pronounced nukes) of bees living at the bottom of home field. They are facing east so the very first light over the horizon hits them, this is good as too much shade makes the grumpy. The hedge behind will shelter them a little from the winds and there is plenty of elderflower in blossom all around them to give them a good start in life.
The little yellow things are sugar water feeders, they are currently on a 2:1 ration to get them started and have been going through it at a remarkable rate. Stephen has been replenishing them at regular intervals but I think really he just wants any excuse to spend time with his bees.
The man is smitten.
After quite a bit of bee related running around on Thursday and Friday I didn’t quite know what to expect of it all. I was putting the boys to bed while Stephen quietly and calmly installed the two nucs. By himself. With no help. Just a youtube video and a glance at a fact sheet and off he went.
Now yes he has read the books and soaked up more bee info that the average human brain can cope with but I wondered (and worried) what it would really be like to be surrounded by all those, not to put too finer point on it, bees. I’ll admit to some apprehension on my part as I donned my own bee kit and headed down the field as the sun began to dip beneath the horizon.
I stood a little way off, not wanting to get in the way, but a bee found be and stung me anyway. Thanks bee, it’s nice to meet you too. Luckily I have plenty of Apis on the go right now which sorted the sting out no problem but I wondered how Stephen had got on. He wandered up the field, all beekeeper suited and wellington booted; as he pulled off the big hat and veil I saw it on his face. Love. Adoration. Awe. “They’re magical” he said and I knew I need worry no more. This is his thing, these little flying creatures and their complicated lives, I’ll just be on the sidelines happily processing whatever goodies come our way.
When I started on all this I thought the point was to get honey and wax, I thought that was the only possible reason we would want to do something this mad. But when I saw his face, lit up a little by the falling sun, his smile a mile wide, I knew it wasn’t even close to it. Really, all of this, is just about joy; joy and wonder at how amazing this world and all the life within it, truly is. If there is a better reason than that, I don’t know it.