There was a time when beekeepers were regarded as social misfits – eccentrics who subscribed to the Good Life principle but had neither the charm nor the looks to pull Felicity Kendal.
Apiarists, to give them their Sunday name, were pretty much once a bunch of middle-aged chaps with a Volvo and a David Bellamy beard. Beekeeping is what Morris Men did when they weren’t startling old ladies by dancing around a Maypole.
It was an odd thing to do. But that was the 1980s when Jimmy Savile was a regarded as a paragon of virtue and a Wall’s Vienetta was seen as haute cuisine.
Since my days as a young beekeeper – it sure beat collecting football stickers and endless games of ‘knock and run’ – times have drastically changed.
We are now told that beekeeping, which was on the wane as recently as seven years ago, is now popular again, particular among the chattering classes who hope to liven up their oatmeal scones with a smearing of their very own amber nectar.
There are now believed to be nearly 25,000 registered beekeepers in this country which can be only be a good thing when you consider that the humble honey bee was in real danger after it came under attack from a parasite.
But, we are told that not everybody thinks that this rush to embrace nature is a good idea and last week one national newspaper ran an article with the shrill headline ‘Why bees are invading our High Streets’.
Of course they are not but there have been a number of high profile swarms in urban areas.
Naturally swarms can be terrifying to the uninitiated but they are not uncommon and reasonably straightforward to deal with – if you know what you are doing.
My days of wearing a white paper suit and a funny cork hat with a net veil are long gone, largely due to the fact that I eventually discovered cheap lager and twigged that being able to discuss how to spot a queen wasn’t the best way to steal the heart of a young lady.
But in recent years I have toyed with the idea of taking up the old hobby once again – perhaps it is a sign that the mid-life crisis might well be upon us. I suppose it is cheaper than a Porsche.
What puts me off is the inherent bone idleness which prevents me from switching on my lawnmower more than once a month so having the responsibility of being the custodian of thousands of tiny life-bringing insects would probably not be the wisest move.
As I ponder on the horrific prospect of at least another 30 years in work, I am happy to put the quest for the Good Life on hold until I have to choose between bees or an allotment.