Sunday, July 31, 2016

Missing wasps, bees - and hornets.

It was only after several days of sitting happily on La Chaise main house terrace, sheltered by the vine and the wisteria, soothed by glasses of wine that I realised something was missing. Something important that was usually very, very present, that usually troubled my calm.

As I gazed at the geraniums on the balustrade, the ivy sneaking up at them from below, I saw last year’s wasp trap tangled in the climber. Then it struck me.

What was missing were the wasps, the bees and even the nasty little Asian hornets were very much not present. I had only seen one dopey full sized hornet inside the house.
Normally I sit on the terrace a little nervously, trying to guard my wine and food

The wasp trap is an empty plastic Badoit bottle clasped by a neat yellow gadget invented by an ingenious Italian. Despite the fact that my body reacts very badly to wasp and hornet stings I do hate to see them drowning. Bees seem to have more sense than to be tempted by dilute but strongly scented honey.

This worried me quite a lot. So I telephoned the local Chambre d’Agriculture in Perigueux to see if there was an expert who could explain. There was a bee specialist and he did explain. Apparently the weather in the beginning months of this year in the Dordogne had been so unstable, predominantly wet, that the queens of the vespidae had not been able to breed. ‘ But after August 15th,’ he said,’they will be back.’

August 15th is another pivotal day of the French July-August holiday season. Then millions of holiday makers will be on a chassee-croisee of the French motorways – it is changeover time! Fingers crossed that the wasps do not return until everyone is settled.

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