Ah yes, bees and rugby, two things that have been with me for a very long time. I better explain, if briefly, what I’m rambling on about.
Today I start a class in bee keeping, the class runs from early on Saturday morning until lunchtime for the next eight weeks. Over the same period the annual celebration of one of the world’s greatest sports is played out as The 6 Nations Championship takes place and England fights against Europe’s five great rugby playing nations for national honour, global pride, and hoepfully a positive step towards reclaiming the world championship later in the year!
Unfortunately for me this has meant that a choice had to be made, and instead of my now famous “rugby breakfast” with the wonderful folk of Alexandria Rugby at O’Connells in old town Alexandria , VA, I will instead be sat in a dusty library in Centerville. Instead of the roar of the crowd and another pint of Guinness, it’ll be the buzz of the classroom (it is early February after all) and the careful study of bee craft.
Why bees? Well, I’ve been pondering this myself. There are many common questions; Have I kept bees before? No. Do I live in a location suitable for a hive now? No. Have I ever been stung by a bee? No. from them the trend appears to be that I have lost my way, or been lured by the bees dance, but actually I’ve grown up with bees and hives. My parent’s garden and small holding buzzed all summer long, and working around bees or letting them work around you wasn’t something that caused me to flap my arms in fear. My best friend’s parents had several hives, and sitting by them on a summer’s afternoon listening to the conversation of the bees was a beautiful way to pass the time. Knowing when the buzzing roar meant the onset of rain in the next few minutes did make weather prediction easier, and understanding when to let them bee <sic> was an easy if important lesson. So maybe it is my childhood roots calling as I grow older. Maybe also it is my Cotswold roots, the Warwickshire lad’s urge to do something practical when I spend all day staring at a screen as a business analyst, “pushing bits” as one coworker describes it.
I think it is a bit of all of this, I am fascinated by the history, the nature, and the practicality of the skill. On top of all that I love honey, and learning the secrets of its production is a charm that can only be resisted for so long. I’ve got my log splitting and woodland work but you can’t eat an oak, and who knows maybe by this time next year I’ll be stirring my own honey into my cup of Earl Grey!
So please, if you’re reading this and you know the score, don’t tell me! I’ll watch the rugby later, but for now I’ve got to learn the ways of the bee!