It came as a bit of a shock to find that a swarm of honeybees had set up home in the top of one of our compost bins which clearly provided ideal conditions: at least 15 litres of space, well protected from the elements, warm, and not infested with ants. Whilst we value bees, and garden to encourage them, we didn’t actually want any of our own, and so while the bees were apparently pretty happy, we were not. However, a call to the Wiltshire Beekeepers Association did the trick, and the next day saw the bees off to a good home, leaving us with a palm-size honeycomb slightly oozing our very own honey.
In truth, the honey was rather bland, but then the bees had hardly started before they were interrupted, so it doesn’t do to be ungrateful. And anyway, as Emily Dickinson noted …
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Had we wanted to keep the bees, the timing would probably have been propitious, if this old beekeeping proverb is anything to go by …
A swarm of bees in May is worth a cow and a bottle of hay.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
But a swarm in July – just let them fly.
Although July is still warm (sometimes), it seems there’s no longer enough nectar and pollen around for a new colony to make honey.