On Friday afternoon, May 27th, the sisters and staff of St. Dominic’s Convent, Stone, experienced an unusual – and exciting – event. Suddenly, about 1.45, the quadrangle was filled with flying, buzzing honey bees!
Sr. Valery had just sat down in her room after dinner – her room looks out on the quadrangle – when she heard a strange humming noise. She gazed out of the window and saw – to her amazement – the quadrangle filled with flying insects! Were they wasps? Or ? Quite a daunting sight in fact! We were soon all running to the windows, both to look and to close them!
Quite quickly the insects descended into the quad garden and gathered themselves into a large cluster, looking like a large black bag, hanging from a small rose tree.
Not being ‘bee educated’, some of us wondered how we had not noticed the bag earlier, and had to be enlightened! Our resident ‘bee expert’, Sr. M. Henry was not present, or she would have explained for us, that the ‘insects’ were honey bees and that the ‘black bag’ was the bees themselves, a swarm of bees, following their new ‘Queen’ to a new home or hive.
A local ‘bee keeper’ was contacted. He arrived quite quickly, with his protective clothing and his large box. We gathered at various (closed) windows and watched with some excitement, making suggestions as to what he was doing. We could not get a very clear view. However, we did see that in some way – perhaps by shaking – he got the cluster of bees to fall into his box. He then encouraged the bees still flying around the rose tree, to join their companions in the box; not entirely successfully. Finally, he had to leave 30+ still buzzing; they would leave within two or three days, he said.
For this reason, we continued to keep the windows shut. Quite a number of bees had found their way into the house; some we persuaded to leave, but others, sadly, died.
The next morning, Saturday, we saw that the ‘remainder bees’ had made a second, smaller, ‘black bag’ in the quadrangle. So the windows stayed shut and the bee keeper came again to collect them.
When we say ‘bee keeper’, he was in fact a representative of the Bee Keepers’ Association.
Friday May 27 2021 is a day to remember in the convent annals