“That’s funny, Dale. Why do you stand behind your hive when you’re working it?” Penny Robertson asked.
Good question. It had never occurred to me to think about where I stand in relation to the hive I am inspecting. I paused and thought about it.
The first rule of beekeeping is, unsurprisingly, don’t stand in front of a beehive (take your time, if you can’t immediately figure out why this might be a bad idea). Penny continued: “Because it has to be easier to pick up both ends of the frames standing sideways on to the hive.” It certainly is, if you arrange your brood box the “cold way” (with the frames end-on to the hive entrance), as I do. Your arms simply reach out the same distance to pick up each frame-lug.
We all have our little ways of doing things – and sometimes, when someone else is working with you, they can see an oddity about your methodology which appears totally ordinary to you. And I-do-it-like-this-because-I-have-always-done-it-like-this cannot ever be the right answer.
In my case, the puzzle was soon solved: “You’re quite right, Penny, but for the past six years, I’ve been keeping bees on a narrow London rooftop, and the safest – sometimes the only – stance to adopt is to be directly behind the hive.”
And there we were, with the whole of the county of Suffolk to manoeuvre in – and rather than adopt a sensible sideways stance, I had clicked straight into my habitual pantomime villain position.
Why pantomime villain position, I hear you ask ? Simple: “He’s behind you !”