Finally, a day where I wasn’t expected to hare off on some emergency. Today’s little excitement was home-based.
The unseasonal weather was not being kind to my garden, so I spent much of the morning checking irrigation tubes and suchlike. I started at the stable, and my usual chores for the animals, then worked my way across.
Which of course meant I didn’t get to the bees until the sun had passed midday. The hives were silent. No movement, so sign of the workers. In fact, the garden had been unusually quiet all morning.
I circled the hives once, nothing seemed out of place, then squinted at the spot where my shadow fell against one hive wall. A funny, smoky mist briefly fluttered at the edge of my sight and I turned for the cottage.
I was going to need a few odds and ends to help with whatever was bothering my bees and top of my list was a hag stone.
I ran through the selection strung across the chimney and chose a broad, flat one. Dark, smooth, with a large hole through the centre, it was one of my favourites, largely because it was easy to see through.
Shrugging my cardigan on, for all that it was still a little too warm for it, I headed beack outside and poked my head around the corner of the cottage, scanning the bee’s home through the hag stone’s hole.
There, standing in the middle of my hives and trying to poke her smoky little fingers into them was a bad-mannered little ghost.
I hid the hagstone and ambled back towards the hives and casually sauntered around them again, this time dropping salt rocks from my helpful pocket. Not the powdered, ground-up stuff, I’d never be able to collect it again and do you know how bad that is for my soil?
I completed the circle and muttered the charm to seal it, with me, the ghost and the bees inside.
I looked through the hag stone again. That wiped the smirk from the little brat’s smudgy face. She looked around, then darted through a hive towards the forest, only to come up hard against my salt circle.
You can’t cross your arms while you’re holding a hag stone, I really should come up with some sort of eyepatch for them, so I settled for a hand on my hip and a stern glare.
“What do you think you’re doing, pestering my bees?”
The ghost looked sulky and turned away from me. If that’s the way she wanted to play it, fine.
I set another line of salt rock across my circle, trapping her inside it, away from the hives.
I called to the bees. “You can come out now. I have her contained.”
They boiled out of the hives in a black cloud of temper and gathered behind me. Keeping an eye on the now nervous spirit, I added.
“What was she after anyway?”
The swarm rose and fell, forming letters and patterns and suggestions of images.
I returned my full attention to the ghost. “You were trying to steal honey? First, no one steals from my bees. Second, you’re dead and from the look of you, have been for quite some time, you can’t touch it, you can’t eat it. What in All the Powers were you at?”
She hunkered down, trying to find a gap in my circle, still refusing to communicate. I wasn’t having that.
I pulled a spirit jar from my cardigan and poured a little honey from the nearest hive into it (my bees knew what I was doing and while they certainly twitched, they remained focused on their thief.
I set it on the ground next to my second salt line, and opened a small gap.
“Very well. If you want honey, come and get it.”
I stepped back, the bees still behind me and the ghost glanced between me and the jar, then sped towards it. It was a good thing she’d not been out and about much; spirit jars don’t look that much like honey pots after all.
In she went, and the seals activated. She was stuck in there until I chose to get her out. And I would choose to get her out when I found a way to communicate with her. In the meantime, she had her honey and she could think about actions and consequences.
Of course it then took the best part of an hour to collect the salt back into my pocket and I had to scramble for the last few as the rain finally decided to arrive.
All in all, for a quiet day at home, I earned my tea that afternoon.