A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…

Can anyone hear a buzzing? (May 25)

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Last Sunday evening Ed noticed a wasp or two outside and heard a significant buzzing above. Then way up around the main roof gutter at the back of the house he spotted a small swarm. The gutter is 3 floors high so we can’t get up for a closer inspection (not that we’d want to) and if there’s a nest up there it’s likely to be in the attic space anyway….

The thing about the attic though is the size of the hatch… It’s a very tight squeeze and certainly not the size of hatch you want to be squeezing yourself out of with a swarm of angry wasps in hot pursuit. Hmmmm…

Then a few days ago I also noticed a buzzing. This time outside the front door – and when I put Gracie down for her nap a good number of what looked like honey bees were bobbing around outside her bedroom window and one or two had made their way inside. I have to confess I wasn’t totally sure how to tell the difference between wasps and bees but having looked on the internet I’m pretty convinced these are bees. Now I’m wondering whether it’s bees at the back of the house too. Either way it’s certainly been a problem before; after a bit of investigation I discovered several bits of old loo paper shoved between the sashes of Gracie’s window and dozens of dead bees caught up inside…

Guests are now here to stay and yesterday when I was putting Gracie down again my friend Louise came running up the stairs; ‘I think you better come and look at this!…’ Outside the kitchen window the mini-swarm on the roof had turned into a massive swarm about 30 feet high and 10 feet across. It quickly reduced in size but the thought of thousands of wasps suddenly appearing out there is not very nice to say the least.

I’ve since been spending quite a bit of time on the phone…

The man from the council can help us with wasps but he can’t help us with bees and at the moment he can’t help us with anything because he’s off on holiday for a week. The man from Rentokil can deal with wasps AND bees – but there are 2 kinds of bees (don’t ask) and if these are honey bees we have to get a bee-keeper to come and try and save the nests first. I’m loving that – so I found the local bee-keepers association and as luck would have it there’s a bee-keeper who lives in our village – I’ve left him a message. The carpenter’s coming on Monday to widen the hatch…

I’m not sure how this is all going to end but Ed’s now home for the weekend and a quick look through the binoculars has at least established that it’s bees at the back of the house and not wasps after all – which at least feels more comfortable.

It would be lovely to think the nests could be retrieved and that our kindly local bee-keeper might adopt them or perhaps deposit them in a local wood – but this whole bee thing has given Ed a twinkle in his eye and I think he may have other ideas…

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