Terror is terror. Abrupt and intense. Suddenly shunted into your face, indifferent to your rapt fear.
Like a swarm of bees, ancient and implacable: 20,000 spirographing projectiles ripping the air, weaponed with venom.
But the ancestral adrenalin reflex is awry. The reality is that a bee-swarm is about as menacing to human beings as a maypole dance.
It is simply the way bees reproduce; orthodox and customary. It’s a ceremonial procession, with the venerable Queen abdicating skywards with her followers, leaving a clutch of heirs to usurp her in the hive. It’s nothing more than a flash-mob choreography on a grand scale, an impromptu insect threnody.
Slowly, this soft shrapnel of bees implodes to cluster on a branch, whirring together to weave a taut bivouac. From this insect pelt, scout bees adventure out to locate a new home, where their cargo of honey will be turned to wax, hexing new comb out of thin air.
This is the time for me, ladder and saw in hand, bee-suited, to grip and cut the branch. I remove the swarm, adhesive and uncomplaining, down the ladder, along the lane and back to my bee-yard. I raise the roof of their new residence, steady the bees and rap the branch on the hive. A split-second waterfall of bees sloshes into the brood box. Hived!
Those full honey-stomachs and house-moving vocation make them as terrible as a Tunnock’s Teacake, as pugnacious as Christmas Puddings. No, really !