A handful of heaven, a day with the Bees.

A little clip from a day with the bees, more to follow.


I will never forget the first time I was stung by a bee, as it was for me, as it is for most, a little painful, especially when you’re  not expecting it, as I most certainly was not when I sat on one in the rear seat of a car when I was 6 or 7 years of age.

Yesterday I was stung 3 times on my travels, it was no less painful, only this time I managed not to cry, and in all honesty it was my own stupidity that  allowed it to happen.   A chance encounter with a local Beekeeper ( Apicultor ) Jose  Maria, here in the Andujar National Park in Jaen, where I am now based in a, some would say insane , search for the worlds rarest cat, led to an offer to spend a day working with him as he checked the hives and went about a little bee maintenance duty.

I jumped at the chance of course, as these little wonders of nature have kept me in sweet stuff since I can remember and their contribution to the well being of the planets food production, cannot under any circumstances be overrated, if they all disappear , we are in deep shit, and I believe it was great uncle Albert Einstein who phrased it with a tad more political correctness, but you get the message.

A 6am start found myself and Jose Maria  bouncing along miles of dirt and gravel road, heading deep into the hills and valleys of a huge  private Finca ( ranch ) where the hives are located and bees made their supreme tasting liquid gold.

After the bone breaking teeth chipping drive along miles of track, we suited up in protective clothing and the process began. First a piece of a potato or hessian sack was set alight and dropped into the Bee smoker, a tin with bellows, to create the smoke which would pacify the bees as Juan went about literally pulling their castle apart to check on the weight of the honey filling the panels, and to see how the new queens were coming along. As we approached, I must admit, I was somewhat nervous, as this was the first time my head was about to become a major point of interest for a few thousand bees, all somewhat annoyed at the disturbance. For those who have never experienced this, I highly recommend it, as the energy, and please pardon the pun, but the buzz is mind-blowing.

I had no idea, until Jose Maria informed me, that bees do not like black, and my shiny new Panasonic camera was nothing but, so that is why I had a considerable amount of angry bees giving my camera their full attention, I was very very happy to be wearing a pair of rubber dish washing gloves, as I would have had a great deal of trouble doing anything that required dexterity, with god only knows how many bee stings and there entrails hanging off my flesh.

However, as much as that got my attention, it was the huge number trying to scramble their way through  my face mesh that really got my attention. The sound is incredible, the thought of them finding a way in, is sobering beyond belief, but of course this was just another day in the office, for Jose Maria, but I on the other hand was just coming to terms with this crescendo of sound and vibration going on an inch or two from my nose.

A little way up the track at his 3rd set of hives, I was taking a break from filming when Jose maria decided it was time for me to feel the energy in a handful of bees, believe me there plenty of energy going on as he scooped a large handful from the inside of the lid of the hive, and gently swept it into my gloved hand, mind blowing!!!!.

If you think the human race would have got as far as it has, without these little bundles of joy and energy, you need to be reeducated.


Stories and Footage From The Natural World