To bee or not to bee

It started a couple of weeks back with one of Carolyn's obscure text messages:

R u going 2 your dads on Tues. & can u take your camera?m

I don't know when Carolyn started spelling in such an appalling way, or what the 'm' at the end stood for. Perhaps it should have rung a few alarm-bells. She went on to explain (I use the word loosely):

I wanted u 2 take a special picture of a field of flowers. If I can get a key to the field gate.
Carolyn beekeeping
What the dapper beekeeper is wearing this season.

I replied that photographing a field full of flowers sounded right up my street.

In other words, I walked straight into it.

Read what Carolyn texted me again. Read it again very carefully: Field… Flowers… Photographs…

Do you see any mention at all of bees? Or of bee-suits?

Carolyn recently took up beekeeping, and, it turned out, she wanted some photos taking of her bees in action. But it was all right, you see, because she had a spare bee-suit, you see.

Her own bee-suit is a rather dapper affair, sensibly camouflaged to make it harder for the bees to spot her. Her spare bee-suit—the one she expected me to wear—was what can only be described as honey-coloured. It was also, it transpired, about 17 sizes too small. Carolyn literally cantered back and forth, jumping up and down in a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt at containing her laughter, as I tried to clamber into her spare bee-suit. I know I'm not exactly the sveltest of chaps, but there was no way on Earth that I was going to be able to zip it up. I couldn't ever stand fully upright in it.

So I stooped at a respectful distance, with my stomach hanging out of my borrowed bee-suit, taking photographs, while Carolyn did whatever it is that beekeepers do. Then we returned to her car, where I tried to get out of the damn bee-suit. In the end, Carolyn had to help me.

"Wait till I tell Jen that you took my clothes off!" I said.

"Just as long as you don't mention it on your website," replied Carolyn. "My niece would be mortified if she knew you'd been wearing her bee-suit."

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. IANABK but surely pulling on bright yellow Marigolds undermines the value of wearing a bee-fooling camouflage bee-suit? Bees are more likely to be freaked out by disembodied yellow hands floating towards them than an uncamouflaged keeper, no?

    Actually I don't think the bees are likely to be at all fooled by the camouflage. It's almost certainly better to wear a stripey yellow-and-black jumper and try to gain their confidence.

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