Bees might spring from a lion carcass.
Our new hives are clinic-clean,
waiting wombs of cedar wood.
We sow forage flowers in readiness:
bergamot or bee-balm, drifts of lavender,
purple cranesbill, spires of salvia.
Convert the lawn to clover meadow.
Plant hyssop, borage, lemon melissa.
When they fail to thrive we blame the weather,
Varroa destructor then each other.
Over winter we brood in silence,
construct a pyre for Apis mellifera.
The call comes in summer's drowsy heat:
a swarm beards the eaves of a garden shed.
Breughel's beekeepers all in white
we are hazed in smoke.
Neighbours, strangers cross the street.
The swarm collector officiates.
Honey gorged, the bees are quiet.
We position our skep,
gently dislodge the tawny clot.
You drive us home through viscous air.
In the back of the car, our burden of bees.
A siren sounds, they do not stir.
Our hives are alive,
thrumming like pylons.
Bees pause between nectar sips,
alight on my dress,
taste the printed flowers.
We fracture in their myriad eyes.