09.03, Friday 18 Nov 2005

How they make cheese: Cheese, like honey, is a natural substance, now farmed by man. Specially bred cheese bees are introduced to cow's udders, usually by injection of a fertile queen (in this modern era), or - traditionally - by smearing the teats with butter to entice the swarm to move into the empty udder-hive.

The bees digest the milk, converting it to a silky, stinking, semi-liquid substance, which leaks continuously from the cow as a kind of pre-cheese. Wooden spindles are slung under the cows, and use a slow clockwork to turn a wheel over a 24 hour period, winding the strings of pre-cheese onto a number of cheese bobbins, one for each teat.

Each morning, these bobbins are gathered, and the pre-cheese taken for drying. Eventually it will be woven into the blocks of cheddar, and so on, we see in supermarkets.