3.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

It was getting caught helping himself to a tomato from his grandfather’s vines and a conversation with Mr Fowler, the gardener, that he first became aware of bees. This led to a promise of tea at Mr Fowler’s and a visit to his hive. Having been stung the odd occasion before, being shown 50,000 of them is a wooden box was almost too much, but the gentle reassurance of his mentor meant that his worries ebbed away. Mr Fowler shut the hive up and promised a return visit when it was time to harvest the honey. He never went back.

Roll on a few decades later and he is looking out the window with his friend, and Jim says that is the third one he has seen recently. Third what? is the question; swarm is the reply. Thankfully Jim was once a beekeeper and suggested that Roger tried to take it off the branch and get it into a box. It was going well until he dropped something in the middle of the swarm and it was not long after that, that he spots a couple of bees inside the veil…

Taking Jim’s old hive and with several thousand irritated bees in the boot of the car, he heads home to start his beekeeping adventure. It was one of those pivotal moments though, that little spark that was almost extinguished years earlier was fanned into life once again. It would become a flame after meeting Duncan, a new guy in the village. As they head out of the pub, Duncan picks up a pot of honey from the shelves where people sell a few bits and pieces and nearly falls over at the price. He mentions the failed attempt with the swarm earlier and together they concoct a plan to get a couple of hives.

What could possibly go wrong…

It is the beginning of a warm friendship between the two men as they try to get their heads around these tiny insects as they produce this liquid gold. It is very amusing at times especially when they are at the auction or trying to decide the next plan of action. It is a steep learning curve too, the initial budget is blown out of the water and they suffer setbacks and celebrate successes in equal measure. It is full of poignant moments, a spot of cricket, an expensive bottle of whisky and the odd hangover. I’m not totally sure what the price per pot of honey worked out at, but this isn’t about the money. It is a book about forging friends for life and a growing respect for these amazing insects. It did remind me a little of Allotted Time: Twelve Months, Two Blokes, One Shed, No Idea by Robin Shelton which is a book in a similar vein but about allotments.

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