HIVES! Honey! Homicide! And a sting in the tale, of course.

Trouble is, the most significant deaths in Deborah McAndrew’s new murder mystery do not occur in the plot but in the accompanying ecological message of Marsden company Mikron Theatre’s entertaining and educational show.

McAndrew is a beekeeper herself, hence the urgency of her concern that our bee population has halved and our wild meadows have decreased by 97 per cent. Rather than having a grim bee in her bonnet, however, her play is uplifting, topped off by packets of wild flower seeds being distributed to each audience member to do their duty by the bee.

Mikron Theatre’s cast will take to their narrowboat for three months of waterways shows from June 10 but in the meantime are visiting such places as Scarcroft Allotments in York on Wednesday this week.

Awnings protected cast and well-wrapped audience alike from the May rain, but evening bird song and a cake and tea stall were signs of summer promise, and dripping water was only a minor inconvenience, even leading to amusing impromptu comments from cast members when thrown off their stride.

Directed with zest and storytelling brio by Adam Sunderland, a busy-bee cast of four actor-musicians play multiple roles and assorted instruments, as well as singing doo-wop songs composed by Conrad Nelson with witty lyrics by McAndrew.

Her crime thriller is performed in the melodramatic style of a B-movie – or should that be Bee Movie? – wherein the no-nonsense northern gardeners of the Thistledale Allotments are jolted by the discovery of the body of grouchy member April May.

No-one is beyond the suspicion of Nicholas Coutu-Langmead’s Irish gumshoe, Detective Starkey, including tattooed southern allotment interloper Willie Stringer (Coutu-Langmead again).

Could the murderer be shovel-wielding allotment stalwart Bert ((Rob Took)? Or April’s even grumpier twin sister June May (a wonderfully blunt Caroline Hallam)? Or maybe the ever perky, pucker Ruth or embittered, boozy Councillor Crotty (Ruth Cataroche’s delightfully contrasting roles)?

As the silver-tongued sleuth conducts his steadfast enquiries, so Took’s Bob Honeyman, chairman of TUBA, the Thistledale Urban Beekeepers Association, takes every opportunity to explain beekeeping and bees’ behaviour. In doing so, McAndrew cleverly links human traits to those of bees, aiding Starkey in his deductions.

To bee or not to bee? Oh, you should definitely make a beeline for Beyond The Veil, a fresh, fun, buzzing outdoor play that will make you appreciate the wonder of bees all the more.

Visit for tour dates.