In early February of 2016 Liane and her sister decided to book us all (including their dad) into a Beginners Beekeeping course in Dun Laoghaire. It was a two hour course that took place once a week on a Tuesday evening and we tried to eat together before or after. I was a little cynical going into it, not sure if I had the time or energy to give it and pretty certain that keeping bees wasn’t in our short or mid-term future as a couple. But the course provider, the Deasy energy and the bees won me over. I was fascinated.

There’s a history of beekeeping in Liane’s family about which I know quite little. What I do know is that Liane’s grandad Dan Deasy was a central figure in Irish Beekeeping - head of the national association and an authority on the skill. His passion filtered down generation to generation and has somehow crept through to me. Liane’s family were reared around it and there are stories upon stories about the famous grandad’s beekeeping. There’s still honey from his hives in my press today.

I have two hives at the moment. One is full of bees that I bought this spring and the other is full of a swarm that took over the hive at some point last summer before I started looking after it. The newer hive is called the Deasy hive and the older the Cusack hive (after a colleague who has helped me into beekeeping).

To find the right date for the first line of this piece I went to Whatsapp and dug up the old group we had. The last thing on the group is an automated message “Panzer Left” from January 3rd 2018. I scrolled upwards and her personality, her words, her charm and mischief sprang out of the phone to meet me. I cried softly. I smiled at some of the memories that came to me.

There is solace in the bees - the simplicity of the activity itself, the beauty of their hierarchy and method, the connection to nature and (sort of like competitive sport/sea swimming for me) the inability to let other thoughts cloud my mind. It’s a wonderful escape and one I feel will become a lifelong joy.