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Today I have been mainly learning about bees.    I spent the day in the company of five other wannabeekeepers at Bore Place www.commonwork.org/ studying everything from the lifecycle of bees through to building your bee hive, with honey production, extraction and bee disease control covered along the way.  It was quite a day – lots of text book learning and a whole heap of new information to absorb. 

I came away feeling pretty daunted by the task which lies ahead – but I’m keen to start keeping bees for two reasons.  Firstly – we’ve had wild bees in several trees on the farm for as many years as we can remember – and this is a pretty rare thing these days – so our challenge will be to try and entice the indigenous population to swarm to our bait hives and start a new colony.  Secondly – we have our wildflower meadows on the farm so to be able to produce Swallowtail Hill wildflower honey would be really special. 

My fellow students comprised – a woman wanting to resurrect her family tradition of bee keeping, a retiring GP looking for a new hobby, another smallholder like me, a chap who simply said he loved honey, and keen home cook who thought that home produced honey should feature in her larder.  So a varied bunch, but we all had a shared understanding that this isn’t a subject to be taken lightly.  As we all know – bees are worryingly in decline and yet they are vital to the process of pollination.  Without them worldwide food production would be in jeopardy.

I came home with a catalogue from which to select my bee keeping equipment.  I’m quite looking forward to buying an all-in-one bee keeping suit – the adverts all show models trying their hardest to make them look sexy and stylish – but personally – not getting stung is top of my list rather than how shaggable I might look while wearing one….

I came home to find that Christopher had been in the pub with the Tractor Folk and had been leant a copy of Tractor World magazine.  This issue included a feature on some rather game young women calling themselves the ‘Tractor Girls’ – who are preparing to drive a convoy of tractors from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money for charity.  The picture that accompanied the story was of ten attractive young women done up to the nines in ball gowns – perched seductively on their various vehicles.  Good on ‘em.  If I have the opportunity to steal one of Christopher’s tractors I might join them.  If I stole the Fordson Super Major and averaged 15 miles a day, allowing extra time for pulling over every 300 metres to let irritable car drivers go past and an extra three weeks for major breakdowns and repairs  – it ought to only take a few months, I might even be back by Christmas.

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