Bees proved to be another popular workshop topic at the HCFA. There were 12 attendees, one guest speaker (Thomas Bickerdicke – the resident beekeeper) and about 5000 guest appearances.
It quickly became apparent that the bee world easily rivals Terry Pratchet’s Disc world for intrigue and mysticism. In fact it would be hard to make it up – a queen who doesn’t rule; workers who clean, guard and forage; and drones who laze around all day and occasionally go off to fornicate (perhaps that bit is believable). But that is just the start. Amongst other things the audience was captivated by stories of a bee dance, royal jelly, internal feuds between the queen and the princesses, the colonisation of new territories, famine and starvation and parasitic invasions.
For his final act Thomas unveiled his magic box of bees (an observation hive with glass panels) so that attendees could observe this fascinating behaviour for themselves. And to top it all we feasted on some of the honey we collected from the hive.
Thanks to Thomas we will all go away with a little more respect for the bee and the honey they so industriously produce.