On Friday 29th June 2018 Wincanton and District Museum and History Society held a very interesting talk by Gill Cleverley entitled “A buzz in the air”. Gill’s talk is outlined below,
but she also had with her a variety of items connected with beekeeping, such as part of a hive, smoker, excluders. etc., which helped us understand the talk as she went along.
Bees have been valued for their wax and honey since Stone Age people drew pictures on cave walls and collected it from the nests of wild bees. The practice of keeping bees has existed for 1000s of years, with the Egyptians using clay pots and medieval monks using baskets. This meant the destruction of the colony at the end of the summer when the produce was collected. Wooden box hives with removable frames were invented in the 19th century and the colonies are now kept over winter until the queen starts laying again in the early Spring. For the more advanced Gill spoke of “marking the Queen”, which often needs more than one pair of eyes to spot her, and then experienced hands to mark her.
It is a fascinating and rewarding hobby and can be enjoyed by all ages. However, there is a lot to learn and it is advisable to consider several issues before committing to the project.
* have you enough room in your garden to accommodate a hive or 2?
* have you storage space for spare equipment?
* how do your neighbours feel about it – talk to them
* read a book about the basics of beekeeping
* do a basic beekeeping course with local beekeeping association
* be prepared for an initial financial outlay on equipment including protective clothing
* be prepared for disappointments when queens go awol or fail to lay; colony loss due to disease, swarming or possibly one’s own incompetence!
On the upside: the gentle buzz on a sunny day, the sight of a baby bee hatching, a row of jars with your first honey harvest.
If you are still interested in becoming a beekeeper, contact your local association.
The BBKA is the national association, divided into county associations and you become a member when you join the local division. This covers insurance, a monthly magazine, monthly meetings in your local division, lectures and events in the county and locally run courses. There is a wealth of information on the internet but as with other topics, some sites are more reliable than others (as are Beekeepers – 2 Beekeepers, 3 opinions).
somersetbeekeepers.org.uk (Yeovil division) or westdorsetbees.org.uk or sherbornebees.org
Thanks were duly given to Gill for her splendid talk and the visual aids that she brought with her. A question and answer session was readily taken up by those in attendance.