The Bee Room
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When we were looking at our house with a view to buying it, I opened a little window in a small bedroom, and a flurry of bees bounced around in the air just outside.
“I think there are bees in the roof.” I said. The estate agent swept his arm through the air “Bees can be got rid of.” He said in a rather final way.
I wondered why he assumed that I would think having bees in the roof might be a negative thing. Actually whenever I thought of our prospective new home, I mostly thought of those beautiful bees flying back and forth in and out of the small roof above the dormer window. The bees seemed like a blessing to me, a good omen.
When we put an extra window in that room, we took advice from local bee keepers, putting the window in during a cold snap in January. At 4 or 5 degrees the builders were freezing, but the bees were clustered up against the cold somewhere, and we didn’t disturb a single one.
I always wondered where in the roof our wild honey bees were. We couldn’t hear them from inside the room, we just saw them criss cross in front of the window, and thrive on the bramble flowers in the hedge. The room became a prayer and meditation room, where I often considered the bees, inspired by their sense of purposefulness, community, order, altruism and, well, wild magic.
We call the room ‘The Bee room’. It has a quilt on the wall stitched with bees, a beeswax candle and a small water colour painting of a really furry bee hovering between sunflower heads. On Christmas eve at midnight, we stay up in that room and read to the bees; Carol Ann Duffy’s wonderful poem ‘The carol of the bees.’
I wonder if the bees have responded to this, because this summer, they moved into the wall cavities of the long pitched roof. I write poetry in that room now, and I can hear them, busy in the wall. So here is a poem for my beautiful wild bees…
The bees are building
In the long slope of the roof,
Their portal a chipped tile.
On warm days they
Fly in and out in lines
Casting their golden threads
Over the land.
Their flight, a prayer.
In my small room I hear them
Click and tick and whirr
Spinning flower essence into
I, too, under the slope
Am humming and spinning
Honeyed walls of prayer and poetry.
I dare not compare my work to their
Fine threads, ethereal and actual.
So drawn to them, I spread my arms across the slope
There are thousands of bees within my
I press my ear against the hive line
To gather their secrets
Alone and together we
Chant the inner work
Craft it to sweetness
The walls of this workspace, a temple
This work is worship
In this small sanctuary
The hive thrives, alive