96. Bee Keeping

Beekeeping: On my first full day in Ireland, Geraldine (Aisling’s mommy and my Belfast host mom), took me and her friend Sharon to their house in Cushendall. The drive from Belfast to Cushendall is gorgeous and the town itself is postcard perfect. I wasn’t the first to tell Geraldine that it looked as though the town was put here just for the tourists to gush over.

Geraldine gave us the tour around the house and what we found was not in the brochure. A hive of swarming bumble bees had taken over one of the upstairs bedrooms. The Queen was in the chimney and hundreds of her brood were trapped in the room trying to get out a shut window. Neither Sharon, Geraldine or I cared to mess with the Queen and her minions so we went in search of a beekeeper. We hunted down three (3!) in this tiny Ulster town and found they were all at Cemetery Sunday, a once yearly event where people tend to the graves of their loved ones and hold a ceremony on their behalf in the graveyard. By the time they would be available we would be back on the road to Belfast.

Then in came Peter, a long time family friend who lives next door and our hero for the day. Peter was raised in Scotland and served in Normandy for the Scottish Army and clearly has little fear of anything, especially a swarm of bees, and there certainly isn’t anything a beekeeper could do that he couldn’t just do himself. He convinced Geraldine to let him light a fire in the long since out-of-commission bedroom fireplace. The idea is to generate enough smoke to first sedate the bees in the room and to second scare the bees in the chimney into saving their Queen and go swarm somewhere else. It was genius and it worked. We spent the next hour smoking out the Queen and sweeping up sleepy bees. Time well spent.


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