Quail diary

Quail for eggs — life in a London garden

Quail diary – 103. Silly bees

with 2 comments

swarm of bees in tree (close up)

Swarm of bees in tree

Bantam Neighbour’s bees have swarmed. There’s a deafening buzz in late afternoon and beyond the fence a twister rises up, a whirling vortex of tiny bodies and beating wings. It is all over in ten minutes. They don’t go far, just into an overhanging lime tree. But 12 hours and a thunderstorm later there they still are, a gently heaving brown poultice along a forked branch – 50ft up. Now what?

Bantam Neighbour, contacted by phone, is incredulous. “I only split them two days ago… are you sure they’re mine?” She’s also slightly miffed to miss all the fun, again. However, there’s 40,000 bees on the loose and Mrs Nextdoor’s having conniptions, so er, will I just be a doll and pop round? With something large and white to lure them back down? There’s an empty hive handy, leaking honey by the compost bin, go and make a landing strip. Empty frames under the stairs. Crown board in the shed …

A what board? Where are the bee buddies when you need them? Gingerly, I zip myself into the pastel bee suit and stomp off trailing an old bedspread to see what can be done. I’ve never flown solo before.

In Bantam Neighbour’s garden all is quiet. The dog fawns, the hens jostle at the gate, the tortoise sneaks into the house for a wee the moment my back’s turned and the bees from the remaining hive pile out enthusiastically to promenade up and down the gleaming white sheet even before I’ve finished spreading it – but the swarm high overhead stays put.

And now we wait. This could take days. There is no plan B.


Written by pottingshedder aka Jay Sivell

April 24, 2011 at 10:28 am

2 Responses

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  1. You are an actual saint. An actual saint. I won’t let the mister keep his bees in our garden in case we have to suffer this upon our poor neighbours.
    Does Bantam Neighbour want two more tortoises? I am desperately trying to rehome our 35 yr old heirloom ones in the south-east as my vet thinks they will die if I bring them up here. They have lived their entire lives free-ranging gardens and couldn’t possibly endure any of this new-fangled vivarium nonsense.

    Flora Fauna Dinner

    April 24, 2011 at 11:18 am

  2. Eeek. I love bees, and adore honey, but had a bit of a run in many years back when an allotment neighbour kept hives right next to my plot and I ended up being dive bombed by them. I have only seen a swarm a few times, one just last year in our street and it was there for over a week. We telephoned the local bee keeping peeps and nobody wanted it. Good luck.


    April 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

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