This is the sight that greeted us after dropping our kids at sport class night before last and returning home. A swarm!
Panicking that it was wasps, or (worse) hornets, we tried to smoke them away, but after half an hour of fervent activity (on their part not ours) they had settled and amassed in the hedge between our garden and our next door neighbours’. It was clear, once they’d stopped buzzing all over the place, that, fortunately (for them and us) these were honey bees and not something that would need exterminating.
At last! All those years of searching longingly online for beekeepers courses and information about honey bees came in useful and I knew immediately what to do – leave them for a grown up to deal with – and I called our local beekeeper association for help! And help they did! They were in our garden not half an hour later with technology such as a blanket and cardboard box.
Unfortunately, the hive had decided to amass in the MIDDLE of the privet rather than hanging from a branch, and instead of the anticipated half-hour job, it was a couple hours before the last of the stragglers found their queen and settled into their warm temporary home.
And whilst that may not have been the intended evening plans of this local beekeeper it was a boon to us as we chatted as he worked, with bees in our hair (or over headscarf as the case may be), and over our feet we learned so very much in such a short time. So VERY much. All first-hand knowledge. All queries answered. Seeing first hand how the job was done.
It sparked a great interest in bees (and lame bee jokes, it has to be said… oh BEE-have… yeah, see what I did there), and we have all declared a bee investigation project should commence. I have rekindled my love for beekeeping aspirations, I think it’s the hat that does it. And plans to perhaps make it to the annual Honey Show have been proposed, and after a very long time I feel my old unschooling tendencies have some wind to fan their flames as I see once again how education is not the filling of a bucket but a lighting of a fire, and how the best learning happens with genuine interest, awe, intensity and real life all in the mix. I have let that ball drop as the boys get older – with GCSE years looming. It’s time to shift the balance, I think.
So, we have a renewed vigour in getting out there and learning hands on. The library has been ransacked for biology and nature books, and I can see a little crafting finding a role in there somewhere too. All with thanks to the bees who paid us a visit.
If you have a swarm then read this before contacting your local beekeeper. And for those of you in the UK, this week will see a final push in parliament to make sure the pesticide ban (that aims at saving the bees) is kept, after a powerful assault by the pesticide lobby to get the European ban lifted. If you can please sign this petition and let MPs know who’s side we’re on!
EDIT:: THIS POST resonated with me today and just has me nodding along.