A Wax Opera

Vivat Primrose, Queen of Thames Hive !
Primrose, Queen of Thames Hive (or
CK.1.2.L.10.12.BS, as I call her)

“A Wax Opera” has all the hallmarks of the best soap-operas: a colourful and much-sought-after leading lady, improbable plot-lines, painful incidents, treacherous rapscallions, tortured relationships, gung-ho alpha males, sensationalist twist and turns – and always leaves you wondering quite what will happen next. “A Wax Opera” is what happens when high drama hits my beehives.

Regrettably, in many glossy epics, the prima donna meets with misadventure and is written out of the script. Deprived of her familiar image on the screen, the audience suffers temporary bereavement, but, after a short period of mourning, warms to the replacement heroine. Taking that message to heart, we bid a fond “adieu” to Ruby, Queen of Shard Hive and prime the PR pumps for Primrose, Queen of Thames Hive – as the Bermondsey Street Bees’ new diva.

I shall not dwell on Ruby’s sad demise from the Apis channel – suffice it to say that she was a victim of nosema and that she was ushered to her obituary by this very beekeeper. While there is no room for sentimentality in rear-view-mirror beekeeping, let me confess to a sad failure of judgment, exacerbated by an abysmal British Spring. I shall not forget the lessons learned.

Think of it like the new Doctor Who: there’s plentiful fuss in the media about how different and exciting the new star will be for the show, but the smart money knows to anticipate little, or no real change to the narrative. The Doctor is always, essentially, The Doctor. Similarly, the business of a honeybee colony is to breed bees and to do that you have to have a Queen. Whether Primrose or Ruby, the show must go on ! The cast of characters in the daily drama at Thames Hive will ebb and flow, with Primrose at the centre of the story-line – but remember that this can be as changeable as a Wimbledon-week weather forecast.  For example, this week’s revelation is that Primrose is clipped, but not crocked (as I had feared she might be in Happenstance), as you can see from her latest publicity shot above !

My job as a beekeeper is to offer the bees direction. Like head-strong starlets, they will often interpret the script rather differently from the director, but that just makes the job more interesting. In the end, we are working towards the same goals: a thriving beehive and a plentiful supply of honey. And unlike the guy sitting in the soap-opera’s director’s chair, a beekeeper only ever gets a single “take” for each scene – each time you intervene with your bees, the results are an indelible “print” ! So when the roof goes back onto a hive after each new episode, I can almost hear my inner director calling it :

Well done, CK.1.2.L.10.12.BS, errr, I mean, Primrose, thanks, everyone. Nice work today…it’s a wrap!”

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