Why I hate my bees by Millicent McNaught

Why I hate my bees by Millicent McNaught


I close them up for the winter, I slope my shoulders at everything being done for the season. I have attended to the apiary for the last time, before cluster, stiffened to attention and saluted my girlfriends and informed them that our next date will be when the dandelions show their yellow faces.

The time for warm fires and hot toddies is upon us. We have some honey harvested, not much but enough for friends, neighbours and recalcitrant impasto melt away their thorny edges. Life can be good betimes.

So how many colonies have I, do they have they enough stores, the Ivy run was almost prolific, no need to feed possibly, which are the strong ones, and which are the weak? Questions so soon. What will winter bring…..around here it is more predictable that we sometimes pretend.

Mild damp weather until Christmas is very likely maybe one or two belts of frost to remind the ladies to keep the boss warm and dry. Christmas will pass, and the weather will get cold, sometimes very cold as the East wind visits in January or February.

These visits rarely last as long as we remember, but the land dries out and visiting the apiary becomes possible in the short few hours in the middle of the day. Why would you want to or need to?

I am sure everything is fine or is it? Maybe a colony or two has failed, no way of telling is there? I put in the treatments and checked the stores before Winter. Why do I fret over that which I have little control? But I do ladies, you make me do it, you site your welfare in the vast uncharted expanses of my subconscious to haunt my pleasant dreams.

Of course, the late winter often brings the gales howling in from Hy Brazil, to unsettle the passive forgetfulness that sometimes beset a beekeeper on their long winter sojourn. Have I weighed them down, did the ground soften, maybe the legs of the stands have sunk Pisa like into the softened ground, have one or two of them capsized?

Better go check of you’ll not sleep too soundly. The days lengthen, towards the Spring solstice, the Temperature at the North Pole reaches its nadir at the end of 6 months of darkness, whilst at that same moment the temperature at the equator reaches one of its twice-yearly zeniths. Nature goes a bit bananas.

The Ocean currents speed up, and the winds speedup to equalize the temperature extremes, and poor little Ireland is right in the middle of the fast lane. And there I was full of hope and anticipation for the coming season. Where oh where are the dandelions.

Can I get no peace? First visit to the Apiary is mixed a couple of colonies did not make it. My worst fears were founded. The survivors need some fondant, I hope you foresaw that one. And so on to the new season.

We’ll surely get a good crop this year; won’t we? Of course, April or May will be really pleasant and nice. Where is that Jetstream? What was that seven weeks of damp miserable weather in a row, and the girls are getting hungry even.

Is this the new Irish Summer, how come it is not like the ones that I remember, forking hay up to my uncles making cocks in sunlight field and after gorging on the brown bread sandwiches and hot tea brought out to us at our joyful place of toil.

Yes I remember getting that sting back then. Little did I expect it would become a familiar event later in life. So familiar now that the Anagen has to be carried to every apiary visit to ward off the anaphylactic shock.Then a soggy foggy June may be followed by a cold July. The run is over before it got started. There will be a few jars just enough for the circle of friends and enemies.

The hopes of Spring dashed upon the craggy rugged Summers under the fickle atmospheric autobahn we call the Jetstream. It will be AGM time soon and I will have hide my disappointment before my peers when they regale me with all the great returns they achieved.

They must be liars, could beekeepers belike fishermen, surely not. The things I must endure and go through for the compulsive obsessive disorder known as keeping bees. I must be mad. Anybody know a good therapist?