SEVERAL of John’s hives have been standing on the moors for over two weeks. He took them with his brother Geoff to a friend’s farm. They are situated in a grass field, but have easy access, for the bees, to the heather.

A fortnight ago the clover, as well as the bell heather, was in flower. The clover flowering in the grass field where the hives stood. In good conditions bees are said to be able to fly two miles to scout, but a range of a mile would give our bees ample access to forage for nectar. John’s concern was that not all the heather was flowering at that time, and also that damage caused by the heather beetle could diminish the bees’ harvest.

Earlier in the year apparently thousands of dead heather beetles had washed up on beaches in Scarborough. Following the beetles emerging from hibernation on the moors in the early warm spring, north-easterly winds, and a cold front, had both killed and blown many of the bees into the sea.

This would give a significant boost to the health of the heather as this beetle can annihilate vast swathes of moorland. But a parasitic wasp, that is a significant control on the beetle population, has not hatched out in significant numbers this year to have an impact on the heather beetle. So could the beetle disaster benefit from the wasp setback?

Happily, the glorious purple vista greeting us as we drove up onto the moors reassured John. There was plenty of heather accessible to his hives and the bees should be guaranteed a good food source for the coming winter.

As the hives he has taken are mainly populated by fresh swarms gathered in June, he is happy to let these bees keep their harvest. We have more than enough honey from older colonies of bees. Just to make sure, though, John plans another trip with his brother next week to go through the hives and check they have stored enough honey away. At this stage he can add extra supers ( a bees’ larder I suppose) to ensure ample winter supplies if necessary.

Although we had not taken the dogs out with us, I always like to drive past the farm where our sheepdog Fizz came from. I remember when we picked her out from the excited bundle of puppies and what a loving, loyal and intelligent bitch she has grown into.

Not that all callers at the farm appreciate that side of her so much, which is why the gate carries a number of warnings not to wander in if she is loose in the yard. But that is a sheepdog for you.

We even get a quick nip on our heels if we walk too slowly at the back of the sheep when we are moving them. What we need it seems is more honey for energy to keep up a good pace. Fortunately the bees are making good provisions.