No …it’s not exactly Springtime, but there are a few wispy little intimations that if it has not precisely sprung yet , Mother Nature is girding her loins for a bit of a bounce sometime soon. There are a few forewarnings, of course ; those first green shoots and the longer days ; it was bright until half past five yesterday.It has already sprung in my world ,though. I’ve already  peeled myself away from the keyboard  a few days ago ,for an hour or so to delicately ease this old winter-crumpled body back into the world of  flora and fauna …the birds and the bees…the flowers and the trees. I always start with a little weeding and  tidying up and somehow always manage to practically fill the big brown bin with the winter detritus..even though I’d cleared everything away only mere months ago .Where does this stuff come from?

It’s that startup. Getting motivated. I hate starting every year , but once started I love it and the quiet meditation of the mundane work.The hunkered down, futtering, hoking and poking; the raking and sifting. There’s something very therapeutic about it .There’s the air and the exercise too . Like getting out for a walk , It’s never as cold or as  wet once you get out there. It doesn’t take a lot of effort either ; an hour or so each week keeps everything  in the garden ticking over and keeps the  mind and body in some sort of order. It blows fresh ideas through your brain…..hopefully…..sometimes that’s a test to see if the old brain is still capable of new ideas..

A few of my honeybees are stirring too.They must think it’s nearing time for some really hard work ….maybe not just yet …but soon. I’m getting ready for that too .I think there’s life in six hives  this year but I’m going to try and restrict them from doing what comes naturally, if I can . Controlling a wild creature like a honeybee is a nonsense of course. All you can do is vaguely shepherd their progress. That’s why an apiarist is called a “beekeeper” . you can keep them , but you’ll never really “own” them…..just as you’d never really own a fox or a tiger.

The nub of it is that I really don’t want them splitting and swarming too much this year ,so I’m going to experiment with the “double brood” system and give the queens twice the room to cultivate their families .This might work …or at least slow the process down. They have a mind of their own ,of course and are unreadably wild to the core , so I’d never take anything for granted .Turn your back on a lovely sunny day and they’ll do the least expected thing.They’ll swarm when you’re up to your neck in something else entirely…most likely up a ladder trying to fix a roof tile or painting the fence..or simply away buying a few groceries.  I do expect them to swarm though. It’s a natural thing to do; a matter of literally not keeping all your eggs in one basket. It’s how they’ve evolved to continue the line .I just don’t want that many more bees ….that many more hives to buy and build .Somewhere you’ve got to draw a line in the sand. Then again, maybe I could sell a few hives.Who knows ?

Anyway ,Ive already lined up half a dozen of these new “poly” hive bodies . They are seemingly very robust and very easy to build and maintain. There is also a whole new system for the wax  frames which make them very easy  and fast to put together.; no more nails; the hives  just interlock  with tongue and groove joints and they are as dense  and as strong as timber .A guy in Liverpool was telling me all about these new ideas,  last year, so I’m looking forward to trying some of them out. He said that he had great success with them. He reminded me that the honeybees would glue everything together with propolis anyway. He’s right ; they gather up some sap from the trees and convert it into  a gluey disinfectant that fills every  draughty little  crack. . A whole new season then.

This is when the year really begins….when  the days warm up all those wee honeybees take to the skies….but as I look out  of the window , some snow flakes are beginning  to squall and tumble in the cool air . Maybe old Mother Nature is not yet ready to relinquish her grip on  Wintertime just yet…..

3 Responses to WHEN SPRING HAS SPRUNG by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Francis February 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    Nature takes her own sweet time. I watched an old programme that used to be on tv when young called ‘The Water Margin’. Kung fu meets the Buddha sort of thing. A discussion was engaged by two of the protagonists about the Birds and the Bees. Pre watershed stuff, but one asked the other in a simplifying explanatory way what a bird would do when it met a nice Bee?,-‘Eat it’ came the purposefully bovine response from the more rustic of the twain…heads were scratched and again an attempt was made to explain Natures way of rejuvenating her multifarious populations….Busy as Bees may be, their efforts seem to be ones of work bereft of labour….would that all natures populations including our own species enjoy such concord with our own efforts….when the marriage of Spring and Promise endures, and vows renewed in Summer, Autumn and Winter, then we may yet stir the Earths Hearth and make our home here a harmonious one

    • paddykool February 25, 2015 at 9:11 am #

      Francis …”the Water Margin”…i’d forgotten all about that until you mentioned it. Funny how the memory can displace stuff like that. Bee society is much like our own in that it has a natural ruthlessness to its harmony.All work is full of purpose and is purely a survival mechanism. In much the same way as a mother leopard will discard its young female offspring when it comes into season , come September the queen bee will issue chemical instructions to boot out all the useless male drones before winter’s arrival. They are then useless dead weight in the coming , starving cold months…not needed for breeding … and unnecessary to the well-being of the group. .If our human society looked to the bees for a lesson, it would be a cold, cruel , ruthless life for many.

      • Francis February 25, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

        Your point is valid regarding the Bees Paddykool, but I do not think that we mirror fully the Ruthlessness some aspects of nature seem to display when dispensing with populations that are seemingly surplus to requirements.
        Utilitarian dogmatists would zealously cite those that ate economically non-productive for whatever reason or valid curtailment on their abilities, as being surplus to requirements……taken to its extremity, Social Darwinism, an arbitrary concept culminates in those who thrive versus those who ate not ‘fit’ to remain alive. Our indoctrinated marketing dispositions would see us as merely vacuous consumers where to covet possess then consolidate then covet more keeps the wheels of a fractious ‘Economy’ turning where Economy in the truest sense of the word is not applied as the ever diminishing finite resourses of the Earth are squandered for the myopic interests of short term profit….
        Back to the Bees,-yes a certain coldness ot could be attested by the exiled drones. They afterall laboured for the Collective and could feel despondent that their efforts do not merit a more secure Winter, but then they have fulfilled their function for their species and blooming’s all around Natures gardens colourfully display the fruits of their labours and all is in balance. There is no grief, nor woe at their fate and no rebellion takes place in the Hive from aggrieved outcasts. That is nature…..
        We as sentient beings however have the choice not to replicate such a system on our fellow peoples and to do so it can be persuasively contended would be an abhorance of Nature and an artificial system whereby a species that have evolved to survive communally by collective assistance in the group, working together for the common purpose of survival where all in the group are protected, fed, nurtured and inspired by the dynamic of the group in it strivance to survive the fraught domain of nature and the fickle attentions of the elements and other challenges,-that Paddykool is arguably our organic state. The fraudulence needless Wars, the starvations of whole populations because of boardroom graphs needing ever inflated gradients, these privations were the Arms industries interest is in perpetual conflict(Orwell knew his stuff),, and blood is valued less than Oil?! To look from this back to the Bees in their honest simplicity,-what purity exists in harmonious nature,and what Sadness among the higher species who shirk their collective duties to one another and the rest of the other species in this good green Earth.