From A to Bee: My First Year as a Beginner Beekeeper
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Taken from his popular blog, the Surrey Beekeeper, James Dearsley presents the first personal, accessible account of the experience of learning how to harvest bees
Beekeeping . . . oh my . . . what have I done? I am 30 years old, I have been married for three years and am a new father to a fantastic little boy. Surely there are things that I should be doing at this age which do not involve little yellow and black insects that can hurt you if you are remotely clumsy (which at 6ft 5, I have an amazing ability to be).
James Dearsley's wife thought he had lost his mind when he announced his intention to become a beekeeper. But like many interested in the self-sufficient lifestyle, he loved gardening and growing vegetables in his garden and the old romantic in him had idealistic notions of teaching his little boy where honey came from, so he set himself what seemed a reasonable goal: to get, in a year's time, just one jar of honey.
to know the local issues that may affect your bees and what their bees are doing – whether there are any local diseases, what the honey flow is like – and simply to avoid any surprises. I might also ask them to tell me about the local crops to avoid another field spotting road trip. I know of two beekeepers near me who I feel I should make contact with. Both are probably within half a mile of where I am planning to put my bees. One lives in a fantastic house in the heart of the village,
super boxes has gone mysteriously well. I gained confidence, the nails seemed to be not only going in but also going in perfectly straight. Then, no sooner had I started, than I finished – and at a relatively comfortable 8 p.m. It was remarkable. I have to say; it made me wonder why on earth people buy complete hives when this was so easy. However, I was still against a deadline as I am flying to Finland tomorrow, and so I decided to paint the hive straight away to at least get one coat of
them to attack him if he got too close with his tractor. Though they wouldn't hear the tractor they would probably feel the vibrations of it going past and might come outside to investigate. I was going to suggest that I use a strimmer while wearing a bee suit and cut the grass near the hive so he didn't have to. I didn't dare wake him and so had just started to tiptoe away when Sebastian, who was about two feet above me and could see considerably more of the garden, shouted 'Woof, woof!' at
can break the comb when you are lifting it out of the hive, which can result in being covered with bees. If you have seen the Eddie Izzard sketch aptly named 'I'm covered in bees', this is what I am assuming will happen. I will compare the National hive with the oversized, brightly coloured freezer box. Everyone seems to hate it and so I have to give it a go and see if it really is as bad as everyone makes out. Apparently it is based on an old design called the Dartington hive, but is made out
lifted it all straight into the car. The good news was that the hive seemed that little bit heavier than when I had lifted it into position previously. Perhaps there was hope. Within five minutes of getting there we were driving back out again and I was feeling rather pleased with myself as there was not a sting in sight. Result. We arrived back at the house in good time and rolled up outside Steve's gate. In no time we were standing in the same place I had been not even twelve hours earlier.