Sunday, 17 June 2012

Where there's Smoke...

My friend, another Elizabeth, is staying with us for a few days. She arrived yesterday afternoon so in the evening I took her for a walk round the village, pointing out the usual places of interest. As we got to the church we were met with a spectacle which quite took us by surprise...

Standing with protective netting over his head and a smoker in his hand was a chap who introduced himself as a beekeeper from Richelieu. He had been called upon by the Mairie in Braye to come and remove a swarm of bees from one of the trees in the churchyard.

Monsieur was kind enough to show us the equipment he had brought with him and pose for a photograph..

Along with the smoker he had a ladder, a saw, a box in which to collect the bees and his protective gear.

The bees, he told us, had swarmed and taken up residence round the other side of the tree the previous day, but he had been unable to remove them. Last night they were at a slightly better angle. He had cut away some of the branches and revealed the extent of the swarm, which he estimated at 30,000 to 40,000 bees!

He told us that as a child he had attended the local school and made his first communion in Braye church back in 1942.

Now at the age of 80 he was back up a tree in the same church yard attempting to remove thirty to forty thousand bees, alone, in the fading light of a summer's evening..

I thought it was the perfect introduction to French rural life for my friend and I have to say, she was pretty impressed too!

We had to leave him to get on with the job in hand but we'll go back tonight to see if he managed it!


GaynorB said...

A timely post as yesterday it was announced that a former colleague, Geoff Hopkinson, who is now 84 was awarded a BEM for services to beekeeping in the Queen's birthday honours list.

He was interviewed on the local TV news and said that it was being stung 60 times when he was twenty that encouraged him to keep bees!

No doubt your brave man also has a few stories to tell. As you say a good intorduction to life in a French village.

Susan said...

Fabulous. I've never actually seen anyone doing this in real life, only on the telly.

Diane said...

Great post, I enjoyed this story. I am allergic to bees so I keep well clear!! Diane

Lesley said...

Entertainment as interesting as this can never be planned but I bet your friend was really impressed with La Vie Francaise.