JOHN has brought his hives home from the moors. The bees have not done so well this year. But he is cautiously optimistic that a field sown with a wild bird mix that will serendipitously attract and retain game birds will also prove beneficial to his hives.

The reason there is less honey is apparently because of a tiny criminal, the heather beetle. This beetle has damaged much of the moorland where our hives were. Natural predation of the beetle, by among others our friend Mrs Ladybird, has not effectively reduced its numbers this year and as a result, the heather has not thrived and in many places died out. Apparently burning the heather is beneficial to controlling this pest, but many other considerations have to be taken into account so that, for example, ground nesting birds are not affected.

In fact, John is not taking any honey at all from some of his hives as he judges the bees will need the honey themselves to survive the winter. So the opportunity to let the bees gorge themselves on a field put down to attract game birds, but not specifically bees, is too good to miss.

The field itself looks gorgeous. A riot of blue, yellow and white flowers. Sunflowers in different sizes, cornflowers, cecilia, white flowering turnip, yellow mustard. I may not be entirely correct, not being a flower expert, but I think these are the dominant flowers in the field and they are demonstrating a glorious palette of colour and range of scents that the bees love.

So while there may not be honey, there may, however, still be sufficient beeswax to satisfy a small business that a friend of mine has set up to make beeswax wraps for food storage. Now I must admit I had never heard of this product but I have been assured that these wraps are just the latest thing and an ecologically sound alternative to cling film, as, after use, they can be washed through in cool water, and then reused. And a quick flick through the internet brought up lots of similar wraps for sale, all attractively created out of bee themed fabric. But why not have a go myself? A less commercially directed website gave instructions on how to make these wraps from, for example, squares of fabric cut out of the back of old shirts. The beeswax is then melted and mixed with pine resin and jojoba oil. All of which were in my cupboards. Not. But a quick trawl round the shelves of a local health foods shop meant they soon were.

There is a health warning, however. We do have a number of hives in the paddock next to the farmhouse. So I am used to the odd bee wandering into the kitchen when it’s sat nav has misdirected it to an open pot of honey instead of a flower border.

Apparently they find the smell of the melting beeswax irresistible. So I just hope that my wraps do not include squashed bee as well as beeswax.