The strange thing in the Bermondsey Street Bees apiary this week has been that the "eviction of the drones" has already begun. But before you feel too sorry for the drones, it is worth bearing in mind that a living drone is, by definition, an unsuccessful drone. The fact that the drones’ lower abdomens are ripped out by the Queen during their airborne mating (with a “pop” like a champagne cork, apparently!) means that drones die the instant after they have passed on their genes to the Queen.
At one stage this year, I thought that Shard Hive would see more luckless Queens pass through it than Henry VIII's bedchamber. Scarlett, Queen of Shard Hive was preceded by a drone-layer and a Kiwi import - similar to some of Henry's infertile and exotic Queens, all short-lived .
Clearly, there is much more work to be done in identifying the cause and precise dynamics of CCD, but somehow considering a credible research publication which at least explains scientifically the potential precipitate decline of a colony once the balance of foragers to house bees gets out of kilter makes me feel that we are inching towards greater discoveries - even if our statisticians and biologists have only scratched the surface of the greatest Mary Celeste-style mystery of the beekeeping world.
Dear Bermondsey Street Bees,
I know how much you bees like to giggle at these 100-foot high granite monuments to a primitive navigation system, you with your infallible on-board GPS, so please add Ardnamurchan Lighthouse on the wild West Coast of Scotland to your collection!
As a beekeeper, you get used to answering questions. Here are a few old favourites: "Do you get stung?" (Yes. In 2012). "Can I buy some honey?" (Very possibly). "I'm allergic to bee-stings, but I want to help the planet, should I have a go?" (No). The one question which I never get asked is about all that wax.
Lime honey has a pale green tinge to it and is very bright: for me, Lime is a luscious, long-tasting honey with a twist (somewhere between elderflower, mint and passion-fruit) to balance the intense sweetness. Lime has been the foundation of prize-winning honey for the Bermondsey Street Bees.
A tough call, but the three haikus from “so fear not fire” have pipped the honeysuckle haiku from “oval” for the top spot.
True, a purist might fault the syllable-count in the winning triptych (but let’s face it, if we were perfectionists, we wouldn’t be beekeepers!), but the imagery is charming and each haiku has exquisite balance.
So in the spirit of magnanimity the judges award, glory, great honour AND a guided tour of the Bermondsey Street Bees’ Apiary to both the winner and the runner-up of the Haiku Competition!
on green and white, shuddering.
Drink deep, drink sweet, drink.
Thank you, Sweetpea
For being so open
To my explorations
The bee and I
Do softly drowse
Amongst the meadow-sweet
Where the bee sups
There sup I, honey on toast
Tastes like sunshine