Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Introduction to beekeeping course

 Saturday was the first time I got close to bees. And I loved it.

Bees in and out of the kids hive - a national dedicated to the Buzz Club - the kids bee club.

I was looking forward to this course since the moment I booked it a few weeks ago. Keeping bees is something I don't know a great deal about but has always interested me. There's something about it that really appeals to me, maybe it's a calling! Growing your own fruit and veg is one thing, but to help a colony of bees keep going throughout the year in order to harvest an annual bounty of honey is something a bit different. 

Neighbours of mine have kept bees and I enjoyed eating the honey they sold me. This year I wanted to take a step closer towards keeping my own and to do that I got myself a place on the introduction course run by my local group; The Central Sussex Beekeepers Association (CSBKA).

The CSBKA Apiary
Smoker and 3 of the 15 hives in the apiary. 
The first half of the day was spent in Horsham going through some of the theory; looking at the bee ecology, the beekeepers year and some of the costs involved. The second half was spent at the apiary in Pease Pottage looking at hives, how to put them together and, the best bit, getting up close and personal with the bees!

Looking at the inside of a 'National' hive.
The different types of hive were interesting, especially the differences between the insides of the traditional types like the National/WBC and the more funky looking (for a beehive) Top Bar hives. We were shown a couple of hives made from polystyrene but they were never an option for me. I don't like the idea of a hive made from polystyrene, it doesn't seem right. And the experienced beekeeper that was showing us our apiarian options said that woodpeckers have been known to peck straight through the walls and destroy the colony inside. So not an ideal choice for me as there are lots of them where I live, and as much as I enjoy feeding them, they can keep to the peanuts.

Two polystyrene hives wither side of a national hive. The poly on the left is a nuc.

My favourite of the hives was the WBC - invented by William Broughton Carr. It's the iconic style that if you were to ask someone to draw a beehive or imagine one, the WBC would be it. I also like the fact that its double walled so it's insulated better in the winter.

A WBC hive - my favourite!

Looking inside a top bar hive

What next? I definitely want to keep bees so I'll be heading down to the apiary on Saturday mornings to get my skills and knowledge up. Who knows, maybe I'll have bees this time next year?