I’ve been thinking about keeping bees for years but dismissed it as fantasy as it was complicated, my garden was too small and in the middle of a city and I just didn’t have the time to learn.
Back in August last year I actually did something about it and went on a beekeeping introduction day. It turns out I was totally wrong about bees – I can keep them in a small city garden, they’re actually quite easy to look after and don’t take much time. They do take a certain amount of diligence and patience but I have that in steaming great piles.
So this weekend, armed with little more than a patient and supportive other half, a nosy dog, a stylish bee suit and a couple of hives, I took the plunge.
Delivery day –
On Saturday my first colony arrived – via post ( yes you can post bees! ) a bit of an indulgence, I decided to treat myself to pedigree Buckfast bees ( costing a mere four pence a bee ) – bred to be easy to handle and productive. Lovely calm bees that were a joy to handle and went into their new hive without any trouble. I have a natural affinity with these wonderful venomous insects – that’s what I thought anyway.
Sunday we picked up a second colony from a local keeper, just generic bees this time. I expected the same joyous experience. It all went well until the final stage which involves tipping up the transport box and giving it a sharp thump to dislodge the remaining bees so they slide neatly into the hive. Or in this case get very angry, take to the air and seek retribution. Angry bees in bulk are quite a sight. It became a just close up the hive and leg it situation.
The only one injured – aside from a few bees the dog ate and a couple of other insect casualties was me. Turns out for me, a bee sting is milder than a nettle ( so far anyway ). I picked up the hastily abandoned tools the next morning, the hive makes roaring noises when I approach. I hope they’ll forgive me, maybe I should buy them flowers.