Did you hear that sound like an angry helicopter coming from the campo south of Cómpeta recently?
We soon saw the problem, a massive swarm of bees had invaded the chimney and there were thousands more trying to join in the fun!
These things never happen at convenient times, my husband had to leave for the airport in half an hour and we had no idea what to do. We now saw more and more bees were coming into the room from the fireplace.
I was on the verge of panic when the man in my life thought of lighting a fire and smoking out the bees. Easier said than done as not only did more bees fall into the room when we opened the fireplace doors but when we eventually managed to get a fire started, all the smoke billowed out into the room, the swarm was, of course, blocking the chimney.
After a frantic interval the fire began to draw, and the bees decided it was time to move, but only as far as a nearby false pepper tree; still far too near the house for comfort but a lot better than before.
Once I was out of danger, Beloved had to leave me to cope with the aftermath while he buzzed off to the airport.
By this time my brain was in gear and I set off for the village to find one of the local bee keepers. Helped by various folk along the way I found myself in Calle San Sebastian and at the second honey establishment I tried, I found Paco, from La Competena, just leaving his house.
The emergency lent wings to my Spanish and I managed to explain the situation and the location of my house to him and was overjoyed when he said he would come to collect the swarm at about 9pm. He was as good as his word and rattled down the track at the appointed hour. He was amazing and totally at ease with my bees, placing a hive with a hinged lid under the tree and with one jolt of the trunk the swarm or enhambre as he called it dropped into the hive and he closed the lid. While we waited for the stragglers to realise that they had new lodgings and their queen was waiting for them, Paco told me all about the swarming process and bee keeping in general. He had such respect for his co-workers and their part in the chain of life, it made me think about what life would be like without bees, no crops would be pollinated or fruit or flowers, it would be a disaster. We touched on the problems reported in the USA where bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and no one knows exactly why.
My bees did not settle down well enough to be transported that night so Paco said he would collect them the next night and sure enough he was there as night fell, car radio blaring as Barcelona lost an important match. The hive was sealed and put into the back of the car. All offers of payment for such a brilliant service were refused as he said the bees would be coming to work for him and would produce about 15kg of honey over the season.
I still have a slight residual buzzing in the ears and have broadened my Spanish vocabulary, the whole experience has reinforced my fondness for Cómpeta and its friendly people, one of whom came to my aid without hesitation. Thank you, Paco.