When the bees came to live with us in our defunct chimney we felt a little bit worried as it wasn't planned.
Hebe was especially worried as the chimney opening comes down into her bedroom. So when she went to bed that night she stood quietly in her room and asked them to send her a sign that it would be okay; and during the night she dreamt that she was standing in the garden under the arch with the roses, with bees swarming on her, and it was happy and she felt fine about it.
She also did some reading about bees, and this is what she found out. It is an honour if bees come to live with you, because they choose carefully and after much research. They send out scout bees to scope the area and find a suitable new home, where they carefully consider the exits and entrances as well as the space itself. The scout bees will be the lone bees that Hebe inexplicably kept seeing in her room in the days before they came. When it's time for the bees to relocate, they all move together, and so they did — the swarm arrived and landed on the chimney pot then gradually moved inside (and it was our chimney, not our neighbour's, even though the houses are built against one another). Of course, some forager bees may have been accidentally left behind, so guide bees go back to their old home to find and bring along anyone who came back from shopping with bagfuls of pollen only to find everyone had moved on.
For a long time now we have wanted bees. We've talked about it often, looking at our garden to try and locate a good place for a hive. We think we have found one but aren't yet entirely sure. But some years ago we made the decision to ensure our garden was pollinator-friendly, and we stopped using any poisons (apart from I put bird-friendly slug-killer around the baby veggie plants. I think I won't have to do that next year though, because we have badgers and toads as well as seagulls and foxes, so the slug population gets culled! We do spray the pole beans against black fly, but we use garlic for that.
Veg plot with baby courgettes etc surrounded by stones to protect against the fox and cats and badger and any other diggers:
— and we have planted wild flowers that are allowed to grow —
— and lots of herbs, and other flowers.
We have a lot of lavender. We like it specially. Bees like it too:
So our garden is bee perfect. But still we were sad that though bees came, and masses of birds, we didn't have as many bees as we'd hoped. Ha! They're here now, all right!
They all came out this morning and we thought they were getting ready to fly on — maybe just using our chimney as a resting place.
Then they all went back inside it again.
Bees are very wise and knowing, and can find your aura. It is possible to communicate with them as readily as with the other creatures who come to the garden (which we do) and with the cats and the trees. This is not fanciful or one-way, you can converse with them.
Only this morning I ran down to the garden to intervene because Miguel our black cat was all too obviously playing with some small animal in the grass. He was pleased to see me and happy to let me pick him up, which allowed the little red-brown mouse he'd had the time it needed to make a discreet exit into one of the stands of meadow flowers we leave to grow round the foot of each tree. And as that mouse slipped away, it brushed the whole length of its body along the whole side of my foot in the grass. It didn't have to. It chose to. And animals don't do that kind of thing by accident. I hope it stays safe — and alive!
So in the end we feel, at the deepest level, content and proud that the bees have come to stay in our chimney. Hebe is almost a bee herself, she has an affinity with nonhuman being — the cats, the trees, even the herring gulls; they rightly trust her. So I think the bees will settle into a harmonic resonance with her being — beeing. In her cupboard at the foot of the chimney she kept her Hopi candles and her nightlights, all of which are beeswax and very fragrant, so the bees will feel at home right away — though she moved those items out of the cupboard because bees do come looking for them and she'd really rather they confine themselves to their chimbley for the most part.
Also we put all the gadgetry for our solar array that heats the water and provides our electricity up into the attic, and when we have to switch on the water heater in the winter, it makes a deep bass hum like a hornet. I think the bees will find it comforting. And I think when Hebe plays her Rav drum (there's one here if you aren't familiar with them) and her violin and guitar, and when she sings, they will like that too.
It took ages to build and grow a life, and when it was all blown apart and shattered twenty years ago, it felt heartbreaking, as if it could never be healed. But now, in this house, we have been growing the new, and it has got to the stage like the mycelium in the forest floor of related and integrated trees, where we are at peace together and the house and garden are becoming one thing and the animals and birds trust us, and now the bees have given us their seal of approval. We do indeed feel deeply honoured, and glad that they have come. Can you see them dancing round the chimney?