We are most fortunate to have some Bee Orchids growing ‘wild’ in our grass. Three years ago there were two, near the bottom of the garden – where they came from is anyone’s guess.
They obviously like it here, though – they have spread as their seed has blown up the garden and even into the front garden and the grass verge near the road. We have ten plants this year.
So called because the flower resembles a bee as it searches for pollen, it was somewhat ironic when we also had a swarm of ‘real’ bees arrive at the end of last month looking for somewhere to set up home.
They took a liking to one of the nest boxes which we had built into the gable end of the house when it was extended, intended for Swifts. By coincidence we’d seen some ‘scout’ bees investigating the entrance a few days beforehand but had thought nothing of it. We knew when the swarm had arrived, though, as the humming noise was louder than I can describe – and all at the same pitch!
We contacted the Norfolk Bee Keepers and, as luck would have it, one of their members lives in Bressingham. He duly arrived with his Bee Keeper’s clothing and a wooden box about twice as tall as a Shoe box, in which there was a small hole at the base of one of the sides. In a simple action he opened the nest box trap door in the roof and scooped the mass of bees into it in much the same way I imagine a Bear would do when trying to find some tasty honey to eat. His plan was that, as long as he had taken the Queen in with all the other bees and the old nesting material that was still in the nest box, the other bees would fly through the open trap door and join her in the box.
Having left it for a few hours, he returned and taped up the hole in the box whilst also closing the trap door and blocking the outer hole in the wall. He explained that there would be a few ‘late arrivals’ who would find their way barred but that they would give up after a day or so. That is, indeed, what happened and we’ve not heard any buzzing since.
Meanwhile the bees are happily settling into one of his hives in School Road. As it is only about a mile away, there was the chance that they might fly from there to a feeding location in this direction, realise where they were and follow their noses back to their old home. He thought it unlikely, though, as they’d not been here long enough to establish such routes and it seems he was right.
Alongside the home-made jams, we serve honey at the Breakfast table – the current pot is from a hive in Hall Road but, when it is exhausted, we will have some of School Road’s finest and know that the bees that made it had previously chosen to live with us.