BEE BRIEF

I finished it! Sitting in Costa coffee in the Truro Waterstones bookshop, crying my eyes out at the sad-but-happy ending of my new childrens\’ book \”One Bee\” and hoping nobody notices the lunatic in the corner dropping big teardrops and snot all over her paper. Why is writing so undignified?
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I get so excited as the book zooms towards the end, building up speed in the last ten thousand words until my writing is appalling and I leave out chunks of sentence. I retype it into my computer after a bit of time to let it settle, by which time I\’ve forgotten what I\’ve written for some of it and have to rewrite those bits.
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This system of handwriting the first draft isn\’t me being deliberately retro: I can write anywhere, on anything. It\’s just that doing the thing by hand works a kind of brief magic: you stick to the point much better because you\’re lazy and don\’t want to have to write anything that isn\’t essential. It\’s the perfect vaccination against word-processoriasis which causes books to swell up like the legs of somebody afflicted with elephantiasis. (By the way, don\’t click on the link unless you\’ve got a strong stomach.)
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For a truly dreadful example of the literary version of this, by the way, read J K Rowling\’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Or indeed the whole of George R R Martin\’s A Feast for Crows which had me petering to a halt after being totally consumed by all the previous Game of Thrones books.
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Mind you, the bee book – called \”One Bee\” – had a sort of natural limit on it, seeing that the main character is quite an old lady by the time she reaches the grand old age of 30 days.

BEE INTERESTING

One of the addictive things about beekeeping is how alien bees are. Their social life looks superficially a bit like ours – they live in cities, they co-operate – but are so utterly different in their roots and complexity. Even their genetics are different: drones are haploid which means they only have half the right number of chromosomes; worker bees and queens are diploid, with the full set of chromosomes. It\’s like being able to spy on extraterrestrials.
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Beekeepers, however, are a very friendly bunch and full of tips for anxious beginners like me. The first social meeting of the autumn for the Roseland Beekeeping Group was tonight and I not only got some good advice on what to do about my poor empty hive, how to help the surviving hive and how best to build wasp traps (grrrr), I also had the comfort of hearing that everyone had trouble with wasp nests this year. I wonder why this year in particular? Maybe the cold weather last winter killed something that normally preys on wasps?
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Let\’s find out what it is and cosset and caress it this winter.