Insects. Not the most cuddly of creatures are they? And bees, well they sting!
Now I’m the first to admit that I was never a great fan of creepy crawlies. But thanks to our bees I don’t get the eebie-jeebies when I see something with multiple legs scuttle past.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with our story, we found ourselves keeping bees by default. Cliff’s step-dad Ron kept bees for decades and, his health failing, we got our first hive so we could learn how to help him when he no longer could. We got hooked.
While Ron kept his bees in his back garden, we sited our hive in the corner of a farmer’s field, with the farmer’s permission of course. This is called an out-apiary. Not as convenient as popping out of the back door to check the bees but a lot better for neighbourly relations.
Our good intentions have led us to where we now find ourselves: enthusiastic beekeepers with a productive and expanding out-apiary. Happy bees, pollinating and foraging in a beautiful part of the great English countryside, and producing the most delicious honey.
Bees are utterly fascinating and, the more time we spend with ours, the more we adore them. That’s not to say they perch on our shoulders and let us pet them – make a mistake and they soon let you know you’ve upset them! And for tiny creatures they let you know when they’re miffed. I prefer not to miff them …
Which brings me neatly to the subject of this blog: The Sting In The Tail.
A honey bee will only sting you if it feels threatened. They will sting to defend their hive, their honey stores and their Queen Bee. Remain calm if a bee approaches you. Don’t swat them. You wouldn’t like it if you were swatted while going about your business, and neither do they.
The honey bee’s sting has a barb at the tip and this disembowels the poor creature if it stings, so you can see why they only sting as a last resort! Besides, we need all the pollinators we can get.
Wasps and hornets are a whole different matter. They retain their stings and will do it repeatedly. Wasps and hornets could be said to have anger issues. Stay calm, don’t flap your arms around, move away from them and you should stay safe. Remember, the yellow and black stripy ones have short tempers so steer clear.
Honey bees work long and hard. Watch them when they land on the flowers in your garden: they’re oblivious to you as they collect nectar and pollen. It’s what they do and thank goodness for the honey.
I hope you like the image at the start of this blog. It shows two of our ladies returning home after a hard day’s work, with a bumper crop of yellow pollen on their legs. Bottoms up, ladies!