The moon is close to full and the sky is clear tonight. The fattening moon hung in the cool blue sky this evening as grandparents left after a day of hard graft. At the weekend the little man’s dada grandparents came to stay at the cottage for the weekend. They were put to work babysitting and hedge trimming and left a little tired and weary. Today the mama grandparents came and worked equally as hard. Granny scolded me for not cleaning the lane after my father had trimmed the hedges. I did try hard but is was not up to standard. She took the dribbling and bubble blowing little man in the pram and filled bags and bags with the detritus of the hedgerows. Grandfather helped me put down the little man’s floor for his new bedroom.

There are two camps of opinion about bedroom floors. One group of people insist that carpet is the only option. It is warm underfoot, dampens sound and adds a little insulation. The other opinion is that wood (or laminate) is cleaner, is easier to keep clean and adds more natural light to a room. It is into this latter category that we fall firmly. However, it seems that the previous two sets of occupants in the cottage came from different camps. Yesterday the lovely Sharon and I purchased some new wood laminate floor and proceeded to rip up the old carpet in the room to find below it; a wood laminate floor. The lovely Sharon and I scratched our head at this quite a bit. Should we use it and take back the boxes? In the end there were too many holes from the carpet tack strips, and too many chips and marks. So the old floor was ripped up a second time and we laid the new floor today.

Last night was the second night of my beekeeping course. It was an interesting night that began with a test on our homework. The first thing I learnt was that if you can ask two different beekeepers for a definitive answer to a specific question, you will get three definite answers. The class chuckled a little in slight embarrassment as the teacher and last week’s teacher argued (in jest we hope) at one of the homework questions.

We got to know each other a bit better than last week. It seems that about a third of the people in the class already have bees. One lady has had them for thirty years but has found that in the last five years disease has reduced her to one colony. She is on the course to learn about the diseases that never used to bother the bees before.

The thing that stands out in my mind about the class was more details about the life of the queen. It is a misconception that the queen rules, in fact it is the workers that dictate the operation of the hive through some unknown super organism means. In the class I learnt more of the details and recent research in this area and it often seems to raise more questions than answers; which is the best of science!

a national hive and colony by amethystdragon

The lovely Sharon had sent me on the course insisting that I enquire after the bees themselves. She wants to know the exact details of the how and when we will get them. I was under the vague impression that all would be revealed in time, but secretly I worry. If I was in England, Scotland or Wales; then the main sources of mail order bees would be all booked up for the year. All order books are full. So, I enquired about getting the bees from the teacher. He was quite evasive at first, beekeepers are sometimes painted as an elusive closed group, but in the end he supplied me with a name and a number. The association delivering the course originally intended to offer to supply bees to the beginners, but last year was bad to the bees and disease has removed this option. This morning I telephoned my precious name and number and spoke to an old bee keeper somewhere in the Roe Valley. He wants me to ring him in a couple of months and assures me that he will get me set up with a colony. The lovely Sharon was pleased with this until I told her they were black bees. These are the closest we can get to the, now extinct, indigenous Irish wild bee. This appeals to my romanticism about beekeeping but they are a little more, shall we say, ‘excitable’ than some of the breeds about. The lovely Sharon is not so romantic when it comes to the stinging.

The most humorous part of the evening was not the arguing of beekeepers. It was not even the bit about the mating of queen and drone when a popping can be heard as the male’s penis breaks into two before he falls to the earth and dies. The most humorous moment for me was when we were talking about the queen laying eggs and how this is affected by daylight duration. Clutching for an analogy the teacher asked how many of the class have chickens. It shocked me when three quarters of the class shot up their hands, including me. Is it stereotypical progression from chicken to bees? Scarier questions could have been asked….How many of the class like jazz? Or Olives?…..and it is really not funny, but…….How many of the class listen to Radio 4?