I woke in the middle of the night, dragged sleepily to semi-consciousness by thousands of bees. The dream was one of worry; will they survive? A few days later I peeked into the hive and found them dead. They had no stores left. They had plenty of fondant, but it simply was not enough for them. They starved in the local county Antrim definition of the word; they got too cold due to lack of food.
Did I dream their death through some spiritual connection as a beekeeper? To be fair, I dream this dream every spring and this is my first year of winter loss. Of course I am sad and I will miss having bees about the home. That said, looking after them last summer was problematic. I had less time for them, and I promised myself that if they did not make it through the winter; I would take a year off beekeeping. In a fight between the bees or the little people; the little people win. I told the little man about the bees and he knew I was upset. He gave me a hug and told me it was going to be ok, we could buy honey from ASDA.
I’m shrugging beelessness off and refocusing my efforts into the garden and growing things to eat. The old buckets and bricks are already on top of the early rhubarb shoots, the potatoes are chitting on the window ledge and the seed packets are all purchased. I have plans. In the autumn I bought eighteen more raspberry canes to fill a vegetable plot that we normally grow lettuces in. For the last two years all we have seem to have done with this is feed the slugs. These raspberries were supposed to be planted in November. The sodden cold earth and the winter darkness put a stop to that. They are in little pots and have been added to the list of things to do.
Last night I sat down with netflix intending to start House of Cards. Then I remembered that Gardener’s World had come back to TV and iPlayer. Monty Don won and Francis Underwood lost my vote.
This morning I stole away some time as the little people sat eating breakfast and feasting on saturday morning cartoons. I made a dent in some of the items on the gardening list: mulched the redcurrants and blackcurrants, split and spread the snowdrop bulbs, cleaned out the chicken coop, and had a fight with an unruly cottoneaster. Ever since we lost the pear trees to canker I have been keeping a close eye on the apple trees and clipping and burning any little signs of disease. The little man’s tree seemed to be infected on the main trunk at about shoulder height. I was a bit hesitant about doing anything harsh as it is called the little man’s tree as it was a gift for his birth from some friends. All the little people have a tree of their own now. I pondered trying to spray it and then thought WWMD (What Would Monty Do?) I cut out the disease and this resulted in a dramatic pruning of it’s height. It had to be done and it does still look alright. It seems to have opened it up quite a bit. I just hope I won’t have to hug the little man and reassure him by telling him we can buy his apples in ASDA.