The general rule of thumb is that a hive of bees should be moved either less than three metres or more than three miles. But this was the day when my hive would begin their journey to become the first colony established on the moon.
Why my bees?
Why not? What’s wrong with my bees? They’re a healthy hive – no varroa, a strong, young queen, fifty pounds of honey last year. Any earth-orbiting lump of rock would be lucky to have them.
I’m going to miss them though.
I went in this morning for one last look. Workers were coming and going, busy as. I removed the roof of the hive and breathed in the rich, sweet smell you never get tired of, even after so many years. And I’ve been doing this for quite a long time – so long that my old beekeeping buddies have all dropped out or dropped dead or dropped out of contact, just like so many people have drifted away from me.
There was a pleasing weight to both the dense droning sound of the bees and the heft of the first super, filled with honey. Further down the hive I removed the frames one by one and held them close to my face so I could check for the eggs the size of a comma that were evidence the Queen was laying. I spotted her unmistakeable long body – she was scuttling over the mass of subjects, trying to get away from the light. Using my thumb and forefinger, I held her in place for a minute and gave her one last look.
Back at the house I updated my records. Queen spotted and marked – yes. Capped honey – yes. Eggs – yes. Larvae – yes. Sign of mites or waxmoth – no. This would be the last entry, but it seemed important to me to complete the record.
I typed all this on the computer and submitted it to the government, just as I had done every week since I received the letter announcing to the nation’s beekeepers this wonderful opportunity.
First bee hive on the moon – imagine that!
Only I didn’t have to imagine it any more – the van was on its way.
There’s not a lot happens around here and I’d been told there would be a Police presence, a guard of some sort, so I’d warned the neighbours. But I hadn’t expected the convoy of Police and Army vehicles that accompanied the unmarked van.
Two fellas in full beekeeping get up hopped out, declining my offer to help move the hive, without resorting to words. Before I could remind them to handle it gently, they had the hive strapped down in the back of the van. Their exit was as swift and efficient as the rest of the operation.
When it was all over I felt a bit lost, but I was mighty proud to have done my bit.
First beehive on the moon! I kept shouting it to myself. First bloody beehive on the bloody moon!
I never watch the news, but halfway through that evening I suddenly wondered whether there was the slightest possibility that my old bees might have found their way in to the bulletin.
So I flicked the telly on.
There they were – the police and the army and that little truck with the two fellas in the beekeeping get up, making their way through the streets, all that and then at the bottom of the screen the headline: LAST BEEHIVE ON EARTH.