Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Murmuring of innumerable bees … Tennyson

August 2nd, 2008

MONDAY P.M. – Walking with the dogs in the baking afternoon sun the dusty bank ahead of us seemed to be moving with ants scurrying all over it, and I thought we had stumbled on a nest. I kept the dogs to heel (the last thing I wanted was hordes of the insects running amuck in Macbeth's thick coat) but as we got closer it was clear they were airborne and quartering the area just above ground level.

Closer inspection still showed that they were small bees, similar to honey bees, and some were crawling in and out of tiny holes in the earth. Inka was snapping at them, trying to catch them in mid-flight. I soon pulled him away. Heaven knows what would have happened if he'd got one up a nostril! I phoned a bee man who told me I'd discovered a colony of miner bees, so called because they burrow into the soil where they lay their eggs.

The bee man's explanation for the low flying activities was to create currents of air to cool down the vicinity of the hive and stop the larvae from overheating. The ones entering the holes would have been taking moisture inside for the same reason.

Tuesday a.m. – 5.30am to be precise, I was woken by a clatter of thunder, followed almost instantly by torrential rain. I could hear it dinging off the car roof and when I looked out of the window it was fair stottin' (to use a good nor'east expression) off the ground. Thunder and lightning and rain lasted for more than an hour and I worried about my miner bees.

My bold boys and I walked round by the hive to see what damage it might have suffered and were greeted by half a dozen apparently sad individuals aimlessly drifting around. I assumed the rest had been either washed out or drowned. I should have known better.

Wednesday morning dawned bright and warm and we took another turn round by the dusty bank – just to check. After millennia of bee experience of dealing with far worse weather than we'd had the previous day the miner bees were out again in force, enjoying the sunshine.

Maybe I've not been looking in the right places, but I've hardly seen any honey bees this year. Hopefully it's just a local blip because we enjoy our honey in this household. The blue delphiniums in the bed at the front of the house have been attracting the big, furry bumble bees we used to call “foggy toddlers”. A smaller variety have been busy in the hedgerows gathering pollen and nectar. Earlier in the season I saw the red bum bees with rusty coloured rear ends, affectionately nicknamed  red arses'.

At the beginning of this week my practical knowledge of bees was pretty scanty. I know a bit more now.