I’ve been droning on about bees, recently. I noticed during this past wet, windy Spring that there was hardly a bee to be seen on the apple blossom. The kids and I even went bee-hunting, to see if we could spot any. There has been a lot in the press recently about the collapse in bee numbers, thanks to varroa mites, pesticides – and the loss of about 97% of the country’s flower meadows in less than 100 years. So, I like the idea of doing something pro-bee. Maybe even having a hive or two out in the orchard. Not least since my family are all honey-heads, which gets expensive. British honey costs almost £5 a jar in my local Co-op, while a jar of high-food-miles ‘mix of EU and non-EU honey’ costs less than £2.
Anyway, I went for a coffee yesterday and outside was a stall promoting the local beekeeping group, complete with ‘an observation hive’ – a glass-panelled box seething with some pretty angry-looking bees. The very un-angry woman looking after the stall offered help, advice, the chance to meet her bees, an invitation to a ‘beginners’ talk in the local Scout hut – and stickers for my children. It was a bit like being invited to join a cult – but in a good way. Oh, and a week ago while taking my little boy to play at a friend’s farm, we got to visit the ‘apiary’ (ie bunch of hives), in a beautiful, wooded corner of their field. And take home a fantastic jar of real, home-grown honey.
When you think about it, bees are a pretty high-yielding beasty. They give honey, beeswax, pollination services – and result in invitations to Scout Huts to learn more about the noble art of bee keeping. What’s not to love?