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Clive Agran on the emergence of honeybees and fuelling frustrations

PUBLISHED: 11:11 18 June 2014

Clive Agran shares the local issues furrowing his brow

Fuelling frustrations

There is an impressive system of checks and balances at work in the universe that manifests itself in a variety of astonishing ways. For example, no sooner had I celebrated the fact that a mild winter had resulted in considerably reduced consumption of central heating oil when an early spring prompted an unwelcome growth spurt in the lawn. It’s unwelcome on several fronts but mostly for obliging me to cut the grass about a month earlier than usual thereby having to expend some of the precious fossil fuel so recently saved. Because cuckoos are on the decline, the sound of a purring mower engine has symbolically nudged the nasty bird down the list of phenomena indicating the arrival of spring. How long can it be before someone writes to The Times to say he or she heard the first Flymo of the year?

Because saving fuel has become a way of life, I’m eagerly awaiting the development of a solar powered mower. Since most of us only ever cut the grass when the sun’s shining, it seems an obvious application of the new solar technology. Mind you, a stuttering cut on a partially cloudy day could be rather frustrating. Maybe a wood-burning mower would be both the answer and a lot more fun.

To bee or not to bee

Another unwelcome indication spring is here is the emergence from under the roof tiles of hundreds, if not thousands, of honeybees. When my family first escaped London and moved to East Sussex 20+ years ago, we were quite relaxed about sharing our otherwise largely unused roof space with these apparently useful insects as they somehow symbolised the nature we were eager to embrace. Unfortunately our goodwill and tolerance was not reciprocated and increasingly frequent attacks eventually rendered our terrace a no-go area.

Although feeling somewhat guilty at reacting in such a non-environmentally friendly way to each report of various mites and diseases threatening the survival of the honeybee, I would happily swap the pleasure of eating honey for that of being able to sit on the terrace outside of the current November – February window.

Far from being weakened, our colony appears more robust than ever. So, if there are any research biologists or beekeepers out there desperately looking for a strain of super-resistant bees immune to all known illnesses, please get in touch. They’re free and I will even lend a suitable ladder, but removal will be left exclusively to the collector.


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