My bees are alive. Each day I wander up to the allotment and nervously glance in their direction. ‘Are you still there?’ I whisper. Sometimes I see a few flying and my heart leaps; other times I peek under the mesh floor and see the dead littered and my heart sinks.
After badgering Steve with tales of dead bees, he appeared between flurries of weather to douse them with medicine to ease the varroa. He cracked open a few frames and there was snow-capped honey and thousands of them, startled at the interruption. The cold makes them cling to you or your heat and you have to be swift in such weather. It’s silly, I know, to think of the bees embracing you, but it did feel like a hug.
I’m quite sure that you think this book has been slow, that I have spent more time falling in love with winged things that winging words your way. And to some extent this is true, but words take time and learning even more so. I couldn’t rush away the season; I couldn’t make up what had to unfold.
And now my first year as a beekeeper is over and the next one feels just as daunting, but possible, more exciting. The bees and I are better acquainted.
I learnt a dizzying amount in the last year about pollinators, about soils and policies, about myself, about Steve and my garden.
Writing a book this way has been an extraordinary adventure. Would I do it again? Sure, but I’d take greater length to explain that writing takes time, that actions equal words. You can’t write about winter with bees without being there. That and the small fact that I've yet to find a way to write penniless. I had to work to pay bills. One of the strangest jobs I did last year? I was paid not to wash for a week and write about it. I did it, and many others, so I could write this book for you.
I know that some of you wanted this book as a present and boy have I made you wait to give that present. I can only hope, pray and further beaver away at editing so that when you finally give it, it’s well received.
Normally when you write a book, this last push, this mountain of nerves, fear and worry is done, hidden away. There’s always this moment when you let go of the book, allow others to start seeing it that you want to cling on so hard, to bury it where no one can see it. As long as you are alone with the book, only you know your flaws. Readers, they are still a dream away. But crowdfunding means I know its audience, or a part at least. I have a list of your names; I’ve even met some of you. That’s a strange thing for a writer, lovely, but a little unnerving.
Then again, if this book has taught me anything it’s this: relationships rarely come fully formed, you have to work hard at making the right space so that bonds can flourish. This goes as much for love as it does making space for bees in your garden or readers to your page.
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