We have five hives in the paddock next to the farmhouse. Sited well away from the back door I stipulated. Not that many have ever bothered us in the house. But once the grape vine that grows in the back porch comes into flower, the worker bees do tend to fly in to investigate, and then struggle to find their way out again.

I am no bee expert but I do listen to many bee related discussions in my kitchen. The sophistication of life in a bee hive, and how tasks are specifically delineated is amazing.

A worker bee bringing back nectar to the hive will already have derived energy from some of its carbohydrate sugars.

The excess is stored in their stomachs where enzymes immediately start work on the nectar to turn it into a diluted form of honey. This then, once back at the hive is passed along a line of worker bees which continues to dilute it of water until stored in the wax comb cells. There other worker bees fan the cells to evaporate even more of the water, until, eventually, it is fit after extraction, for my breakfast toast.

The pollen I understand, or as it was explained patiently to me, is not collected internally for the journey back to the hive, but carried in special little sacs, pollen baskets, on the bees hind legs.

That was what fascinated me and explained why some of the bees I was watching, from a safe distance, seemed rather dusty.

Apparently rather than a nectar reception committee waiting at the hive, which enables the bees to deposit their precious cargo, pollen carrying bees have to offload the pellets of pollen they have brought back to the hive themselves.

Into special brood cells at the outside of frames. There it can be, when needed, mixed with honey to make Bee Bread for the nurse bees who feed growing larvae.

The diversity of tasks and roles within the simplest hives is awe inspiring. And also the emphasis on the well being of all of its inhabitants.

As ever, I try to deconstruct information and advice I receive into its simplest form so that I have some understanding of what is going on.

Clearly in our house we do not have a Queen Bee who receives all the pandering and special food but, instead, a King Bee. And I know my place. I’m a worker.