The Honey Party

Updated: Mar 1

Today has been a hard day of graft, planting out young beetroot and cavelo nero, and digging a great ditch ready to sink the plastic for our new poly tunnel. My back aches but I know the fresh air and physical work will induce a sound night’s sleep. This morning was a perfect spring day. Warm, bright, radiant sunshine. The colours on land and at sea so crisp and clear it made the heart sing. All creatures happy to be out and about, the perfect day for checking on our honey bees.

Both hives are busy and thrum with the sound of these clever little creatures as they gather bright orange, waxy pollen, working hard to build their colony for the summer ahead.

A good friend of mine gave me a beautiful little book called The Life of the Bee, by Maurice Maeterlinck, written in 1901. The writing is poetic and gives wonderful imagination to how I view the bees. He writes……

The first time that we open a hive there comes over us an emotion akin to that we might feel at profaning some unknown object, charged perhaps with dreadful surprise, as a tomb.

It certainly is a mix of emotions, excitement, anticipation and wonder as you open up the hives and take a look into the world of the bee. I am just thrilled to see they have all survived the winter and seem to be thriving. This time last year we had unfortunately lost our first hive, however that did lead to a fun afternoon of munching honey at the honey party.

One thing we feel is important, both for the farm here, and for farming in general, is to try to allow people, especially children, to learn about keeping animals, growing food and how the food they eat is produced. So knowing we had some spare frames of honey, we took a short video of me, dressed in my bee keeping suit, removing one of the frames from the now empty hive. We then had all the island children around to come and see the video, and, more importantly to them, eat the honey. We had such fun. Martha dressed in her bee costume and felt like queen bee for the afternoon. A few of the boys were really interested in how the comb was constructed, some of the children found the honey too sweet and waxy, whilst others just dug into the liquid gold with teaspoons, hunks of bread and fingers. It was very messy, lots of sticky honey everywhere, but it was a special day that I will always remember fondly and I hope the children will remember it too as they grow older.

As is often the case on these islands, the weather changes rapidly and so by the time I arrive at Green bay for my much need swim it is cool and damp, an enchanting and mysterious shroud of dense fog hides the islands from the rest of the world, we are islands in the mist. The sea is calm and clear, a fluid, silky blue and my aching body longs for the freedom of the water and the numbness of the cold. It doesn’t disappoint, and as I sink down through the layers of icy light, faded green and deeper blue, down to the sandy golden seabed, my world becomes quiet, wondrous and ethereal.

I spot a friend on the shoreline combing for driftwood and one solitary gull paddles around with me. The first tripper boats of the season are back out on the water and the launch smokes its way from Tresco to Bryher delivering goods. All far enough away to be objects on the horizon and not distracting from the glorious colours of sea lettuce, caragheen, coral weed and rainbow wrack that float around me.

I emerge from the water sated and relaxed, my muscles loosened and my head calm, what a way to end the day.

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