|Probably one of mine!
I love gardening, cooking, and anything to do with wildlife. If I could create infographics, I'd put one right here, with beekeeping at the hub of my favourite things. It's lovely to watch bees buzzing through the flowers on a lazy summer afternoon. The work they do in pollinating our apple, plum and pear blossom provides us with fruit. Later, at dusk, it's fascinating to stand in the apiary (as a collection of beehives is called) and hear the bees humming inside their hive. With a large and busy colony, the noise is loud enough to be heard from quite a way away. It's made by bees vibrating their wings, to drive off moisture from their haul of nectar. Concentrating the liquid means it will store without fermenting. If the weather's very hot, bees will bring water into the hive and evaporate that too, in order to cool their home. It's the original form of air-conditioning. How fascinating is that? I use honey in cooking to roast vegetables, and make cakes. Its anti-bacterial properties make it a great home remedy, too. The juice of half a lemon and a spoonful of honey, diluted with a splash of hot water makes a comforting drink if you've got a cold, or a sore throat. It's dangerous to promote anything as a cure-all, but beekeepers are a pretty healthy lot (we'll tactfully forget about the possibility of stings!)
If my bees had AFB, they'd all have to be destroyed, and my equipment burned. Okay, so "they're only insects", but they are my responsibility, and I had duty of care. Bees are in enough trouble worldwide, without me adding to their problems.
By the time the Seasonal Bee Inspector arrived, I was a bag of nerves. I was so concerned, I'd ironed my bee suit. I never normally iron anything! He was very kind and understanding, but his inspection took forever. He checked everything—and then he checked it all over again. As a matter of course, my bees were examined for any signs of deformed wings (caused by a different virus). They were brushed from their comb so the inspector could check the state of the wax cappings over the developing larvae. The appearance of everything was checked down to the smallest detail—several times.
I hadn't been sure whether the bee inspector would be able to give me the verdict there and then, or whether I'd have to gnaw my fingernails and wait for lab results, but I was too nervous to ask. Luckily, he didn't find any trace of anything nasty. He was able to give me the all-clear straight away! There was no sign of either AFB, or European Foul Brood (EFB), so I celebrated by writing full details of his visit and contact details down in my Apiary Record Book, as every conscientious, well-organised beekeeper should...:D
I include news about my bees and seasonal recipes as well as giveaways, and updates about my writing life in my newsletter, which I send out two or three times a year. The next one will include details of a short story due for release in the autumn, My Dream Guy, and Heart Of A Hostage, which is the third title in my Princes Of Kharova series for The Wild Rose Press.
To get my newsletter, you can sign up for my mailing list here. To catch up with the first two parts of my Princes Of Kharova series, you can find out more here.