It’s totally mad . Here we are almost nearing the end of October and it’s still as mild as it was in August . In fact, the sky is clearer and much less gloomy and depressing than it was in August past. It’s getting a little wilder though but the wind is still warm. I got that fence mended just in time . Mended? Well, it was more like a complete re-fit. I suppose I can’t complain.These things do not last forever and how can you legislate against storms.? I think I did well getting thirty years out of it.

Anyway , hopefully this new  fence will do the remainder of  my lifetime. My father was into his nineties when he died , so it’s a genetic possibility, at least that I could get another thirty years out of this deal. The honeybees continue to fly and are finding pollen somewhere. What is still flowering in that kind of quantity? The passionflower is still producing flowers so maybe there are luxuriant hedges blooming somewhere within   a three or four mile radius of here..They say that the ivy blooms late into the autumn but I’ve mixed feelings about keeping it growing around the garden .It is a seriously destructive plant and some vines as thick as my wrist had bullied  themselves between the boards of my old fence and were gradually tearing it asunder.. Will  this all end in a few days when the clocks are pushed back and we all time -travel into Wintertime. It’s this weekend , isn’t it? The start of winter.Suddenly it’ll be dark earlier in the evenings.Dinner in darkness. There’s a part of me that hates that closing down;that death of summertime, but then it makes Spring something to look forward to..The bees will continue to fly as long as there is a little sunshine and some heat ,though.

Hah! I spoke too soon.I left off writing this to collect my thoughts with a bit of tidying up around the garden.I was about an hour into the project , paintbrush in one  hand, fence- stain in the other , when the  lairy tendrils  of the tail-end of Hurricane Gonzalo howled in , spoiling for a fight and is currently hunting around the fence for any weaknesses  I may have  neglected to fix. I fled to the shed to avoid the rain stinging down but a  vagabond gust ripped the door right out of my hands .Thirty minutes ago , suited-up protectively after the last honeybee debacle, I cut the grass down around the hives . They were quiet at first but the roar of the mower had them bearding the front of the hives in  quickening anger and siege- alert. It was a quick short -back- and -sides for the lawn after that.Well- outnumbered , I stepped back out of their business.I’ll tidy up  around them when they are winter-passive. I’ll chop back that depleted golden-rod and  which has finished flowering and hack back the bramble which has insinuated behind two of the hives. You’d almost think it was aware of the best place to grow and   protect its blackberries with such a  fearsome team guarding it from intrusion.The bees will never know a thing.

I was talking to a fellow at a fete in Liverpool’s Sefton Park  a few weeks back and he was telling me he had about fifty beehives scattered throughout the city.He was selling some of his honey at a small table and was asking passers- by to sample his wares.As a fellow beekeeper, I was soon engaged in conversation.His operation was on a different scale .He had beehives  everywhere he could secrete them from vandalism; everywhere from handy rooftops to  corners of cemeteries. Each area was producing dozens of different flavoured  jars of honey.He could tell from the taste what flower each hive had been working. Bees are funny like that with flowers . They tend not to be promiscuous when foraging blooms . On a three mile journey from the hive, they don’t seem to mix their drinks of nectar.They’ll tell the rest of the hive where to go too, so that there’ll be no mixing things up. No getting drunk on fuchsia when you should be lapping up ivy nectar there, girls!

Of course,  when I steal a little honey, I’d probably mix a few weeks beeswork up and possibly a few frames from several different hives, so unless they’re all feeding from the same trough, so to speak, the honey will be something of a cocktail.It’s still an impressive taste compared to the stuff on sale in the supermarket. This fellow told  me he’s changed from the traditional wooden hive  boxes to new “poly” plastic boxes.They’re a bit cheaper and simply slot  together. Apparently they keep the bees warmer by retaining more heat .That in turn saves them energy so they’ll not have to waste as much of their valuable honey . I suppose with fifty hives to manage that would take a lot of expensive boxes and some input of time ,making them with wood and nails.When you get into those kinds of numbers that is a big investment.A honeybee hive is no inexpensive commodity .There are even plastic frames for inside now which apparently have greater longevity . I’ll have to try some of these new ideas next year, myself, methinks.

Anyway back at base , the tail-end of that storm has brought rain and gloom back. The air has suddenly become much cooler  and is now hanging with rain.It’s a “soft” day,  as they say. The change came within an afternoon.We’ll all be spending a bit more time indoors for a while, but in the meantime I’ll get out into it for a walk and let that breeze blow through what’s left of my hair….


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