Fiona Duff: Brexit can buzz off, I’m busy with Bill’s bees

So what were you doing on Saturday? If you were an MP you would have been in the Palace of Westminster for the first weekend sitting since the Second World War.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 4:12 pm

I know of some people who stayed glued to their TV screens, but had I nothing to do I would have rather sat watching paint dry.

As it happens we are decorating our daughter’s room now that she has naffed off to university, so there are plenty of walls to choose from.

However, instead I wandered off to the St Vincent’s Chapel in Stockbridge, where the Golden Hare bookshop was having a weekend book festival.

Not being one for religion I hadn’t been into this church before and what a pretty little place it was, I have to say.

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Anyway, altars and organs apart, I was actually there to listen to someone who was there talking about his book on being a beekeeper. Bill Anderson was a leading light of the drama society when we were at ­university in Aberdeen. He then went on to have a successful career in London as a television director.

However, being a man who likes to get into things in only a way that some men do, he now knows more about bees than anyone else I have ever met.

In fact, he’s written a book, which of course was why he was appearing at a book festival. Doh.

The Idle Beekeeper: The Low-Effort, Natural Way to Raise Bees, as it is called, is, he said, a misnomer. Bees are wild creatures and no one can keep them, so in fact he is just a hive keeper.

Well, for an hour I was quite entranced as he talked about insulating hives, described how these busy little buzzers build the honeycombs and nearly every aspect of their existence.

According to him, we shouldn’t worry too much about them and the scare stories. They have been about on this planet for more than 15 million years and will probably still be here when we have destroyed virtually everything else, including our own species.

A couple of years ago I was all set to help out at a local beekeeping group, but was put off by being told that I would definitely get stung. And probably more than once.

So I did the honourable thing and threw away the phone number of the man in charge. But Bill told me that in however many years that he has kept bees on the roof of his house in London (seriously), not one of them has stung him, so perhaps I would have been safe.

The only thing that disappointed me about the event is that I had heard through other friends that Bill has started making mead from his honey.

I even enticed a friend to come and join me on the basis that he would be bound to hand some around for us to try. But of mead there was no sign.

Then again, I suppose it was just as well, as I already have enough vices.