It’s Spring at last, which means here on the farm it’s also time to tend to the bees and plant the fruit trees. We made our way down to the wood over the weekend to check on our sweet honey bees whom, much to our delight, survived the long winter freeze and were gleefully buzzing about their hives. It also just happened to be the most splendid, sunny day and as I glanced around at the blossoming buttercups and wild garlic leaves popping up through the ground, I couldn’t help but ponder: isn’t life sweet?
Many Irish bees did not survive this winter, which was seemingly never-ending and brutally cold. But, our bees persevered as if they knew something really good was to come. And like us, they hunkered down and waited for things to brighten up. We must remember, things always do turn the corner. A day or two of good weather can be absolutely transformative on the farm. You look around and suddenly grass is greener, new calves are being born, a carrot seed has sprouted, your little boy has learned to pedal his tractor, and the bees start making their sweet honey.
A family of bees will only swarm around the sweet stuff. And much like the bees, we tend to drift towards our own type of delicious nectar. Even though I may not be out milking cows and checking the chickens, I am all for beekeeping, market gardening and lest I forget, helping my husband with his aspirations for growing hops to use in his experimental craft brewing. You see, for us, the “sweet stuff” lies in what we can create together on the farm as a family. I have to say that there is nothing more fulfilling (not to mention, no easier way to get your kids to eat veg) than spending an afternoon teaching your toddler how to help mummy and daddy plant seeds in your kitchen garden. And nothing, and I mean, nothing, tastes better than using your very own tasty honey in your morning porridge.
Years ago, Irish farm beekeepers used to say, “A swarm in May is worth a speck of hay. A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, and a swarm in July isn’t worth a fly”. This old adage could also translate to something like this: if you wait too long to start creating and enjoying the sweet joys of farm life, you’ll really be missing out on some very special things. After all, isn’t it the “sweet stuff” that makes farming all worth it in the end?