This was an era before Coal mining really took hold and Blantyre was still largely rural with apparently a multitude of bee hives. Around 1866, a few years before the story, bees had accumulated in the area to such numbers that significant swarms were quite common. During that year, a large, notable swarm was seen over Bothwell, travelling in the direction of Blantyre. Across the river at Blantyre Village was the suspension bridge leading to the old mills. It is reported that the piers of that first bridge were largely made of iron , hollow and had small apertures at the top of each. The holes were about a half inch in diameter and the bees found this a very safe place to congregate. Clearly the bees decided this was an excellent place to build a hive. It became a familiar and curious sight to the local residents to see such numbers of bees enter and leave and was known to have made the crossing of the bridge, something to be done carefully.
The reporter commented “This happened for several Summers. To me, it was one of the charms of Summer rambles in the woods encircling the noble old ivy clad towers of Bothwell Castle, duly to do homage to the bees at Blantyre bridge and indulge in the fancy the i found them culling sweets from the wild flowers on Bothwell banks. And now, who will not mourn with me, the fate of the Blantyre bees of the iron hive? Secure in that impregnable cylinder it seemed as if they could bid defiance to frost and fire and the sulphur fumes of the bee Keeper. But all too soon came the spoiler, the painter, with his pots of paint (lead) and in his efforts to whiten to beautify the bridge, unexpectedly destroyed the bees. “. So it is with such a report, we find the fate of the Blantyre bees.