Lingering lockdowners may lounge on their lilos and turn the pages of a new book called The Bee's Knees, a treatise on man's best-friend-in-the-blossoms battling for survival in a cruel world of pesticides, monoculture and manicured lawns.
General readers may be aghast at a suggestion that some apiarists might sleep with bees on - not in - a hive. It's soporific, The Bee's Knees author James Morrissey told me, with the warmth of 50,000 insects and the aromas of pollen, nectar and honey. There is an illustration of a canopied bed on which to snooze away the day's cares.
This book is skilfully designed and illustrated, with interviews of bee persons by Lorna Siggins, and published in honey colours by Currach Books at €19.99 and has appropriately appeared in a season which augurs well for the insects after years of gloom.
This may well be a happy bee time with more honey bees visible in gardens, helped by householders who are providing food for them in encouraging red clovers in grassy places and early flowering plants. Dead nettle and archangel are followed by lupins, salvias, delphinium and honeysuckle, thyme and borage and especially lavender. But more flowers are needed with mowed lawn spaces kept to a minimum of trimmed pathway edges.
Bees have had a history of problems from disease pandemics to herbicide/pesticide-driven colony collapses. Flowering plants evolved with bees. As a bee travels from flower to flower collecting nectar to fuel flight and pollen to feed its family, it moves pollen from stamen to pistil - so plants can produce seeds.
The poet Kahlil Gibran described the symbiotic relationship: "To a bee, a flower is the fountain of life and to the flower the bee is a messenger of love."
The naturalist Roger Deakin asked: "Just what would we do without bees? They are close to all our hearts."
In last week's column, Aughrim's mossy skulls were not planned to stand alone in their dockside barrels. Some readers scratched their own skulls. Mea culpa. The missing link was about another new book called 1691 (Cove, Amazon), a historic novel by the thriller writer and journalist Joe Joyce about that ominous July day which changed the course of Irish history.
All the leading characters, Sarsfield, Ginkel, St Ruth and Luttrell, have speaking parts in a bloody scenario which evolves like a docu-movie. The skulls are not part of the book. They turned up 25 years after the battle destined to be ground down for agricultural fertiliser and were spotted by a Dublin naturalist named Caleb Threlkeld.
The Battle of Aughrim inspired the poet Richard Murphy's epic of the same name and a Ceirnini Cladaigh recording with O Riada's music by Ceoltoiri Chualann and readings by Ted Hughes, Cyril Cusack, Cecil Day-Lewis and Niall Toibin, from an original BBC programme in 1968.
I managed to rescue the LP from various house moves over the years - as well as a copy of Murphy's poem, kindly signed, so forgive the mention. A re-release from Claddagh would be appropriate.