Yesterday, the Bee Father decided to investigate all his hives. It’s the time for swarming, he tells me and I remember one of those not so long ago; a great blackening of the back garden and the Sun quite peely-wally behind a thousand whizzing bees. I heard the noise first and went up the garden stets, well, two of them, or maybe just one. It was mightily clear to me that the cup of coffee awaiting me on the table was going to go lonely cold for I, sure as hector, was not taking one more step into that melee. I could have disappeared completely and would likely have swatted and begun a war. The swarm finally cuddled up with the New Queen on a bough of larch, bringing it at least two foot closer to the ground. The solid ball hung there in a perfect shape until the BF climbed up to unhook the ball and drop it into a cardboard box and covering it with a piece of white cotton.
Whilst he worked high above me among the lofty Soldier Pines, where the sun dapples the wild orchids and the bees live in harmony and peace, I could hear a marked rise in the tonal buzz.
We are not enjoying this, all of us, it tells me, for we buzz as one.
After the BF had gone right through 3 hives, discovering all was well, that there were not too many queen cells growing new queens to generate a swarm or two, down he came, quite bridal in his white and veil, to sit and eat a quiet lunch with me. I had carried up an array of dishes, bits of this leftover and that leftover with salad. For a few moments, all was peaceful munching, until She appeared.
She is a Follower, one of those female worker bees, set the task of making sure any unwelcome visitor goes a very long way away. Whilst he sat quite still, she bumped against his face and his head, never landing. After a few minutes, he got up and walked slowly down to the cool of the garage, thus planning to let her know he was leaving. He came back without her but it was only minutes later and she was back, bumping her warning against his face, head and neck. She came nowhere near me and I was right beside him. I watched him never swat (fatal) and sit calmly, waiting for her to get bored or decide her point is made or whatever it was she wanted to tell him in no uncertain terms.
3 more times he walked away, waited a little and returned. 3 more times she found him. By now I’d had enough of this lurching lunch and removed myself indoors. The little bee had popped over to check me out, but I was spooked by her right in my face. I don’t mind once or twice, but she was just too persistent.
Much later in the day, after another hive was checked, the dog walked, church over and thoughts of supper in my mind, we went back up to sip a glass of wine in the warm evening sun.
Within seconds she was back and bumping round and round his head.
I think it’s that aftershave I put on this morning, he said, as we re-settled inside, but we both know the real truth.