BEE-keeping fever is sweeping through our friends at an alarming rate. Suddenly all the talk is of brood boxes, supers, swarms, foundation, frames, and queen excluders. Not a clue. Me that is, John and his friends seem very clued up.

That is mainly because John's father did and John's brother Geoff does, keep bees. John, as a boy, was only briefly an apiarist, but quickly gave up as he did not like being stung.

But suddenly birthday presents from our daughters of all the gear to prevent any contact with bees and an actual hive from yours truly, and we are in business. Except we haven't got any bees yet.

There are false hives dotted around friends farms to inveigle a passing queen into setting up home. The idea then is to transfer her into our super new gabled cedar wood hive and sit back and wait for the honey to flow into jars.

Today John disappeared with his mate and brought home what is sworn to be, by the man who sold him the stuff, several phials of a potent queen attractant.

The magic ingredient nasonov pheromone has been popped into all the false hives and is apparently a dead cert to draw in any queen buzzing around looking for a des res to set up home in.

So hopes are high. I am reliably informed, well seeing as it is John's mate who is also into bee keeping, perhaps not so reliably informed, that the queens are all ready to fly.

This friend has bought a polystyrene hive to house that all important swarm. Who would have thought of one of those? Apparently it is warm in winter and cool in summer. But I think, and its only my view, it does not look as attractive as a traditional hive.

John is quite aware that I am a very wary companion in any beekeeping venture where I might get stung. He only received one bee protection suit for his birthday, but if there is a bee swarm anywhere in my vicinity, he will be on his own, Au naturel as it were.

Until the swarm is safely homed in a hive, I'll be the one clad in that hat, veil, gloves, smock, or even a tent if one is handy with a secure zip. Until then I shall aim to emulate what I consider the bees most valuable talent....."a bee is never as busy as it seems, it just can't buzz any slower."