Last year I went to the London Pet Show, and among all the animals and pet supplies on display, I also was surprised to find stalls and leaflets promoting beekeeping. I knew some people did keep bees in their back garden, but I thought it was quite a niche hobby. Since then, however, I have heard more and more about beekeeping at home, and it seems to have become quite popular. I'm not sure what has brought on the sudden interest, but I have a few theories:
1. The more health and energy conscious we get, the more we are looking towards sustainable modes of living, being more eco-friendly, and trying out our own homegrown products. Perhaps beekeeping is an extension of the recent surge in growing our own fruit and vegetables.
2. Over the last few years I have heard that bees aren't doing too well. They seem to be catching diseases and dying off. I'm not sure if this is all bees, bumble bees, or honey bees, but perhaps people are taking notice and trying to boost the population. It is a fact that urban bees are healthier than rural bees because they are not picking up pesticides.
3. Not too long ago home beekeeping in some countries and cities was banned. Now that that ban has been lifted, the people can finally take up the hobby.
It is all very well and good saying you want to take up beekeeping, but it is another thing knowing where to start. How exactly are you supposed to look after the little critters? There are a number of courses taking place this spring and summer, teaching all the ins and outs of beekeeping and how to get started at home.
Beekeeping for Beginners 8th & 15th June, 10am-4pm, £80
An intensive two-day fast track course which will help you decide whether you want to take the plunge. The class will be limited to ten people, and you will learn the practical aspects involved. Contact them to book.
Practical Beekeeping Course 6th April - 28th September, 12.30pm-2.30pm, £80
A practical weekly course, you will be divided into small groups with your own tutor, who will teach you how to inspect and manipulate your own colony of bees. At the end of the course, there will be the opportunity to buy your own nucleus of bees. Contact them to apply.
Introduction to Beekeeping Taster Course
24th February or 10th March, 11am-4pm, £60
During the one day course you will learn how much time, money, and space keeping bees requires; where to put your hive, and what sort of equipment you need, as well as where to source your bees, how a colony works, how much honey they make, and to harvest it. You can buy your place on their website.