Getting a buzz out of life in the back garden

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There was a time when beekeepers were regarded as social misfits - eccentrics who subscribed to the Good Life principle but had neither the charm nor the looks to pull Felicity Kendal.

Beekeeping is what Morris Men did when they weren’t startling old ladies by dancing around a Maypole. It was an odd thing to do. But that was the 1980s when Jimmy Savile was a regarded as a paragon of virtue and a Wall’s Vienetta was seen as haute cuisine.

Since my days as a young beekeeper - it sure beat collecting football stickers and games of ‘knock and run’ - times have drastically changed. We are now told beekeeping, which was on the wane as recently as seven years ago, is popular again, particularly among the chattering classes who hope to liven up their oatmeal scones with a smearing of their very own amber nectar.

There are now 25,000 registered beekeepers in this country which can be only be a good thing when you consider the humble honey bee was in real danger after it came under attack from a parasite.

But, we are told that not everybody thinks this rush to embrace nature is a good idea and last week one national newspaper ran an article with the shrill headline ‘Why bees are invading our High Streets’.

Of course they are not but there have been a number of high profile swarms in urban areas. Naturally swarms can be terrifying to the uninitiated but they are not uncommon and reasonably straightforward to deal with.

My days of wearing a white paper suit and a funny cork hat with a net veil are long gone, largely due to the fact I eventually discovered cheap lager and twigged that being able to discuss how to spot a Queen wasn’t the best way to steal the heart of a young lady.

But in recent years I have toyed with the idea of taking up the old hobby again - perhaps it is a sign the mid-life crisis might well be upon us. Still it is cheaper than a Porsche.

What puts me off is the inherent bone idleness which prevents me from switching on my lawnmower more than once a month so having the responsibility of being the custodian of thousands of tiny life-bringing insects would probably not be the wisest move.

As I ponder on the horrific prospect of at least another 30 years in work, I am happy to put the quest for the Good Life on hold until I have to choose between bees or an allotment.