About a week ago, when weeding around some young hedging plants, I was kept company by lots of happily humming bees. I shouldn't have been surprised, as our garden thermometer read 22°C. Said shrubs are also in full bloom, which seems a little early to me. Am I wrong? I know they're spring flowering but I was expecting later in March/April. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the plant (suggestions welcome).
Seeing the bees reminded me of another March day years ago when a swarm took up residence low down in a conifer in our garden. It had been alarming to hear and see the dark mass approach and swirl around the garden for several minutes (all of us safely indoors), but once the queen had settled and the others gathered around her, it was quite safe to approach.
They didn't seem in any hurry to buzz off, however, and although I would have liked to leave them to move along of their own accord, I had no idea when, or even if, that would happen. In the end a neighbour came to our rescue by tracking down a local bee keeper. As dusk descended and the bees got sleepy, the keeper approached la barbe (the beard) hanging from the tree, and slipped an open-topped wooden box up around it, and left it suspended for a while, so stragglers could return from forays in the garden. Then he separated the barbe from the tree and closed the lid. He estimated there were about 20,000 bees. They were safely re-homed, no one was stung, and we were given a jar of honey.