On wasps and bees

When I kept bees (from about 1986 to 1997) I was occasionally asked to remove wasps’ nests and the like.

I was always disappointed in how feeble wasps seemed to be when it came to defending themselves against a marauding git armed with a veil and a smoker. I think this was mostly down to the fact that there are so few wasps (probably only a few hundred) in a nest when compared to the honey bee hive.

Bees are a completely different kettle of fish. A good queen honey bee can lay 3000 eggs a day and the average life of the worker in summer is about 6 weeks. By the time you get to July a really big colony might have 80,000 insects in it and they can be very determined – and quite daunting!

They often find their way into your overalls and veil. I think my worst sting was when one found its way into my bellybutton and stung me there. It was agony! Firstly, the sting went in right at the bottom of the crater. Then, of course, because bees have a barbed sting, the insect tried to pull away and couldn’t. I could feel its legs going round and round as it tried to escape.

There’s nothing to be done then but to close up the hive, beat a retreat and deal with the wounds. When the swelling came up it looked like an umbilical hernia!

I stopped beekeeping for three reasons:

1. Daughter no. 1 developed an allergy which put her in hospital for a few days. She now carries an epi-pen but has such a dreadful phobia of insects that in order to avoid one she is likely to run into the road and get killed by a passing bus.

2. Lack of time. It gets to be pretty time-consuming in the summer, dealing with swarm control and honey extraction.

3. All my bees were killed by the dreadful parasite varroasis jacobsoni, which sucks the blood of the bee larva sealed in its cell and shortens considerably the life of the adult bee.

Pox-ridden Bastards

At Christmas, my family invented a new game.

In the game, you have to write a list of people upon whom you wish a painful and disfiguring disease. To keep it topical, we decided that only people in the news in 2005 would count. We called the game “Pox-ridden Bastards”.

Five of us played, myself, three of my children and my daughter’s boyfriend. Mrs. Wow is too sweet-natured and doesn’t wish a curse on anyone.

The rules are simple. If everyone writes down the same name, 1 point each (Tony Blair was the only one chosen by all of us). If 4 out of 5 of you write a name down, 2 points, 3 / 5 three points. To keep it snappy, we limited ourselves to 20 names each.

If you are in a minority, you have to argue the case for your choice. 2 / 5, if subsequently endorsed by the others, means 4 points. 1 / 5 means 5 points. If the others don’t agree with you, nil points.

It actually turned into a very surreal and quite alarming experience.

I got 5 points for Arial Sharon ….

My son got 5 for Tony Banks…

Two of us chose Arnold Schwarzenegger, who very quickly fell off his motor bike and was injured: 4 points.

Unfortunately, one of my 5 pointers, Jeremy Clarkson, is still walking around unscathed.

Would someone else like a game just to see if we can get him?