Here he explains why beekeeping is incredibly rewarding, and how this increasingly popular pastime has given him a greater appreciation of the environment and the complexities of the natural world.
What inspired you to take up beekeeping?
I have had a love of nature and the outdoors since I was a small child. I can remember picking blackberries and looking for bids nests with my Grandparents. My brother is an expert beekeeper and his enthusiasm and enjoyment has been infectious.
How did you go about setting up your hives?
The beekeeping community is very supportive; I was fortunate to get plenty of advice from experienced beekeepers and members of the Halifax Beekeepers Association.
How do you harvest the honey?
Harvesting the honey is the highlight of the beekeeper’s year and is a family event for us. One third of the honey stays with the bees to get them through the winter. The remaining frames of honey are taken from the hive and the wax coverings are removed with a knife. The frame is then put into a honey extractor which is basically a drum that the frames fit into. This then spins at high speed and the honey is spun out and drains to the bottom of the extractor. The honey can then be filtered and bottled.
Have you had any bad experiences? Any angry bees?
All beekeepers get stung from time to time. Usually when you try to rush and take short cuts! Bees are like people in that different hives have different personalities and you learn to be more cautious around the grumpy ones. Beekeepers also try to breed from their calmer colonies. The most disconcerting experience is realising that there are bees on the inside of your veil and that you have not fastened your suit properly.
Why beekeeping, over anything else?
Beekeeping is incredibly rewarding and strangely relaxing. It is important to encourage insects and pollinators because they are an essential part of the natural world and sadly their numbers are in decline. I also like honey!
Has working with bees changed the way you think about nature and the environment?
Working with bees has given me a greater appreciation of how amazing and complex the natural world is. A colony of bees is organised like a small town. Each bee has a job to do and they progress from job to job as they become more experienced. They are incredible architects and engineers their comb is constructed with perfect precision each cell being exactly the correct shape and size. Within this small town bees have perfect connectivity that is far more effective than the best internet. The bees decide what to build and when to build it. They decide if they need more workers or even a new Queen and they decide if they are going to swarm or not.
Do you have plans to sell the honey?
Not this year- too busy eating it!
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