So I have done the 10 week course (I will blog about my experience at the course shortly) and so I almost feel like a theoretical beekeeper! I now have to start thinking about the practicalities of a/ getting near a hive and b/ getting near an actual bee! Hmm….I am not quite sure how I will react when faced with something that has all the ability to sting me. We will see.

One fact on my course amazed me and I felt I had to investigate straight away. In doing this I felt it introduce me to the practical side immediately and make it all feel a little bit more real.

I was told that bees could forage up to three miles away from the hive – this fact astounds me still to this day. Imagine the journey these little guys do just in the search of nectar and pollen! As soon as I heard this I felt a large urge to run out of the classroom and straight to a map to look at what area these little guys will be covering around me. Sadly, I had to wait a while, almost seven weeks in fact…….

I was truly desperate to look but I didn’t want to rush into this little bit of research as I am fascinated by maps anyway. I had the notion of sitting down with a nicely brewed cup of coffee with a map spread out in front of me. I would locate where the hives were to be based, get a pair of compass and do a nice circle around our hives to the tune of three miles. There was a side of me imagining a World War bunker type operation complete with the map sprawled out over the table, low level lighting and me manoevering little bee models around the map with funny shaped sticks!

I knew I had a 1:25,000 map of the local area so I thought this would be enough to tell me all the detail I needed; how far they would fly, how many farms there were around, how many fields for foraging, what types of crops were grown, that all the people and farmers were lovely and loved bees (maybe a slight exageration on some of those points but as I said, I love maps, and I have slightly idealistic notions about what they will tell me!).

After yet another trip away with work however, I had had enough. I was very tired, it was late and I felt I just needed to see where my little guys would be flying to. My wife and I got into bed and I bought in with me the 1:25,000 map; who says romance isn’t dead! I obviously opened it the wrong way round and back to front but then after much difficulty, I managed to open it on Newdigate. I then noticed to my utter dismay that we were located right on the Southern tip of the map. I could therefore see the top of the three mile circle (No, I did not bring to the bed the pair of compass!) but not the bottom.

I just wanted to get my first picture of what it would be like to have a hive and this was what I felt counted. For the first time I would have been able to visualise what will be happening next year! Needless to say, for anyone who wants to do this out there, may I recommend buying one of those maps where you can centralise a location – what a great idea!

Something else that I realised while looking at the map was how large a 3 mile diameter actually is. These little guys fly for miles to get their fuel! I did make me realise that I did not know an awful amount about the local area and the farms though. I have no idea if I have any oil see rape grown near me, I have no idea how many other beekeepers are in my local area either.

As always, a little bit of research only opens up my mind to more questions! Aims this week include trying to find some local beekeepers – rumour has it there are at least two in Newdigate!

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