At lunchtime today, the two Committees formally welcomed the two hives and the honey bees installed on our seventh floor roof by organising a first tasting of their honey. I therefore donned a protective suit and went to the hives to smoke the bees and then lift out a frame (yep, that’s me in the picture) already miraculously full of honeycombs and honey (blog readers will remember that the hives only arrived on 7 May). During the process I learnt a lot. First, I had thought that the smoke was used to make the bees drowsy but that is not at all the case. I only gave them three puffs (the smoke is made from dried lavender pellets) and the purpose is to get them thinking that they might need to abandon the hive (because of fire). When this happens, the bees start to consume honey and when a bee consumes honey the bee’s abdomen distends, supposedly making it difficult to make the necessary flexes to sting. In any case, a sated bee is less aggressive and these bees are anyway particularly docile. The second thing I learned is that our bees have probably established a foraging area of about ten square kilometres and that they fly prodigious distances. The third is that urban bee communities produce twice as much honey as their country cousins. Now, as our President, Staffan Nilsson, pointed out in his speech for the occasion, the presence of the hives is a good thing in itself but they are also there to educate our members and staff about the fact that our bee populations are in worrying decline. The honey was deliciously sweet and it was oh so satisfying to be tasting it!