First Day of Spring

The first day of spring. The day of new beginnings. With lockdown rules lifted a little & my vaccine done I went to see a friend. This is the first trip I have made in a really long while. I hoped I could remember how to drive- I’m joking, but it had been a really long time since I had been anywhere significant. I packed the car the night before, that’s how excited I was. Bee-suit, gloves, boots, poly-nucs, honey-strainer (lent to me the year before last), gifts. Might have left something behind? The kitchen sink?

You may remember that my Bee journey started some years back with a lovely lady called Dinah Sweet alongside me. When I was introduced to Dinah she was The Bee-Inspector for South Wales; that title tickled me, although it’s a very serious bone-fide post and we were friends from the first day we met. Dinah not only showed me the basics of beekeeping at the beginning- with unending patience, she was always there to answer my questions about absolutely anything bee-related. She & her husband John had so much knowledge between them they were better than google & a lot more fun to be around. She was generous with her time & we enjoyed each-others company. When Dinah died she left a massive hole in the bee-keeping community not just locally but worldwide. I miss her but I feel very lucky to have known her. So today I went to see Dinah’s husband, John & the bees.

It was such a brilliant trip. A taste of freedom, driving along nearly empty lanes, through forest to the edge of the mountain. Just a few miles from home & it felt like I was in heaven already. It was like being on holiday, which is just as well all things considered. John met me in his bee-suit: ever hopeful! My car thermometer read 10 degrees: too cold for opening hives. We settled on coffee outside instead.

John gave me a tour of the polytunnel: apricots, peaches, nectarines, all in gorgeous full bloom. That’s why he wanted me to come this week, before the flowers were gone. Fabulous colours. Tints of pink from the deepest to the palest- See the photographs, although you’ll have to imagine the scents. Bees buzzing about, enjoying themselves as much as me. The bee hive in the corner of the tunnel was busy, John said he can see the bees behaviour change in the afternoon, they approach a flower, discover it’s already been visited & have to move on: If a bee could tut?

We didn’t get around to opening the hives, it was just too cold- we will have to wait for warmer weather for that. But it was great to catch up face to face after a year of phone calls. A taste of freedom, I’m hungry for more.