While weeding the vegetables on a fine June day Rue noticed several honey bees crawling about on the fence. An upturned box was strategically positioned by way of encouragement and sure enough twenty minutes later the sky filled with bees and the swarm landed—in a tree. We'd long thought of keeping bees, and these obviously wanted to be ours. We found the instructions in the book—hold box under swarm, shake branch sharply, turn box upside down on ground. With old pillowcases on our heads, we tried it and it worked a dream, with an amazing humming roar as twenty-odd thousand bees all opened their wings at once. But where could we get a hive at three on a Saturday afternoon? We phoned the number on a jar of local honey and by five we had a hive—flat-pack in hundreds of pieces. Much frantic hammering and gluing later, by nightfall the hive was ready and we dumped the bees on a ramp in front of it. The heap of bees paused, then flowed towards the hive like upwards treacle—but missed the door and swarmed again on the outside of the hive. Taking advice from Mike-the-hive-chap, it turned out that when it said “glue all parts” it did not mean the door—Richard had not left them a proper entrance! A second attempt next day was successful, and they have since done wonders, giving us nearly 20 kg of mostly heather honey from our nearest bit of Forest. That's about 0.1g per bee—and hardly any stings... More hives next year?


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