The day Lolly met the bees

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The sun was bright at the apiary when they arrived. Most of the beekeepers had floated home as sleepily as drones. I ran to meet them as small feet in sparkly pink boots pattered down the overgrown path.

The visitors were my sister Amie and her five-year-old daughter Lauren (Lolly). They had come to meet the bees. “Come and meet my hive partner, Emily,” I said, as Lolly looked around curiously. She is very shy in new company so introductions were brief.

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Lolly wore fur-trimmed, pink-glitter Frozen boots for her ‘bee wellies’ and was pleased that I had picked out a matching pink bee suit. These are probably the sparkliest bee-boots that I’ve ever seen.

Emily, Tom and Jochen went on ahead to check Ken’s hive, while my sister and niece put on their bee suits and gloves. That done, we were ready to venture into bee land.

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My sister Amie is suspicious of stripy, stingy flying things, so it was brave of her to visit. She admitted “I was thinking in the car on the way: ‘Oh dear, oh dear – bees!'”

Lolly stood in the apiary clearing quietly taking in all the hives. “This is where the bees live,” I said. “Let’s go see my bees.” We walked to Queen Melissa’s hive and stood watching lots of honeybees flying to-and-fro.

“What’s that?!” asked Amie, as something buzzed past her veil.
“A bee,” I said.
Lolly stared at the hive.

I lit the smoker and put it on the roof. “The smoke makes the bees calm in case they’re naughty,” I explained to reassure them both. “But these bees are very good.”

Their eyes widened as I pulled out a frame of bees from the super box. The bees were busy working on the honeycomb. I pointed out the cells of glistening nectar collected from flowers and the white-capped patches of honey.

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Thanks Emily, for this surprise picture of us all on my phone!

I showed Amie and Lolly the crownboard to introduce the workers crawling across. “These are girl bees, because they have smaller bottoms than the boys,” I said, “The boy bees are mostly thrown outdoors by their sisters at this time of year.” Lolly nodded at the joke, because sometimes she has to throw her little brother Zac out of her bedroom.

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Next we looked inside the nest. I lifted the super to one side and prised apart the queen excluder using my hive tool. “The bees make everything really sticky with propolis, which is a tree sap,” I told Lolly, “The propolis helps to keep the hive clean and warm.”

The queen excluder now removed, I explained that we were looking at the bees’ nest inside the brood box. “This is where Queen Melissa lives with her bees.”

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Lolly stepped a little closer as Amie brushed a bee off her back. I pulled out a brood frame of glittering nectar. “What are these bees?” I asked. “Girl bees,” answered Lolly. The bees were as good as gold. Their gentle humming meant they were happy.

Emily gave the brood nest a quick puff of smoke as I pulled out a frame from the middle of the hive. Things got more interesting.

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Lolly stepped closer as I told her what was happening on the honeycomb. “Here the worker bees are keeping the baby bees warm in their cells until they are ready to hatch. It’s probably warmer inside the hive than your home.” I brushed a few workers aside to reveal the biscuit-coloured brood cells. Then a few bees walked past with bright-coloured blobs on their legs. “The bees are carrying pollen home from flowers like you see in your garden.” I pointed at the cells with gold-and-orange pollen inside. “The bees will head butt the pollen into the cells and use it to make bee bread to eat.”

I put the frame back inside the hive and asked Lolly what she thought of the bees. “Good!” she said with a big smile. She was even happy to hold a frame of bees by herself.

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The humming was getting slightly louder as I told Amie and Lolly to listen to the difference. “The bees are ready for their bedtime.” Emily and I closed the hive. “Do you want to give the bees their dinner?” Lolly nodded. She helped me pour the autumn syrup into the feeder. I gave her a ball of beeswax scraped off the crownboard to take to school for show-and-tell.

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Emily and I had checked the hives of queens Pepper and Peppermint earlier in the afternoon. Here’s pink-spotted Pepper walking across the frame. There seems to be a lot more pink at the apiary since Emily and I started keeping bees.

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The bees seemed content with their visitors, my sister Amie was glad of her veil, and Lolly was amused by the whole adventure. The neighbouring bagpipe player had also come out to play for the bees, which she thought was funny. It was time to go home for dinner and tell baby brother Zac all about the bees and the bagpipes.

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If you enjoyed reading about Lolly’s visit, you might like The day my mum met the bees.

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23 thoughts on “The day Lolly met the bees

  1. That was a lovely story. Thanks for sharing Lolly’s visit. She is really cute in that outfit. I look forward to take our grand-daughter some day nearer the bee hives. She is only two now, so I’ll have to wait.

    • Kids just love the bees! I look forward one day to hearing of your grand-daughter’s visit. Lolly wanted her brother Zac to come too and actually I think he would have loved it, but at two he is too young yet.

    • Thanks RH! We just returned from Hereford holidays (it seems we’re always away this summer but it is lots of mini breaks) and everything is looking very autumnal. It seems Lolly just got to see the bees in time and survived her insect encounter. She was really very amazed when she held the bee frame 🙂

  2. Oh How I loved this wonderful entry and Lolly’s visit, you have a lovely niece and sister, Its great that she is getting interested and Loved her Frozen Wellies, I know another little girl, ( my Granddaughter) would fall in love with those. 🙂

    I try to encourage her not to be scared of bees, and when she was two we had two wild bees nests in our garden and they never bothered us, and she would look at where they were flying into the hole in the rockery..

    Unfortunately she has picked up her mums fear of them, and so is now reacting more this summer to be scared of them.. So I try my best to show her how they collect pollen from our flowers..

    She was fascinated with watching them in the snap dragons how they used their back legs to prize open the flowers and I showed her how they stroked their heads to retrieve pollen..
    Its so important what you are doing to encourage youngsters the importance of bees and how to work along side of them.

    beautiful post Emma.. thank you xx

    • Thanks Sue 🙂 Lolly was in awe of the bees and even my sister Amie was fascinated I think. Lols went to a party the next day and was apparently running round telling everyone about it. Kids love mini beasts, we need to teach them not to outgrow that because these creatures are so important to the world and to us – they hold us up 🙂

  3. Lovely post and great education for your cute little niece! Perhaps visiting a bee-hive could be put on the national curriculum so more children learn not to be afraid and want to look after our pollinators! My youngest daughter is a Lauren and we used to call her Lolly too, mostly shortened to ‘Lol’ now she’s older.

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