One of the lessons I was taught during my beekeeping course was to speak to your local beekeepers. At some point,


because of the fact that your bees will be flying up to 3 miles to collect food, there will be the inevitable mid air collisions, turf wars and bees getting jealous of each others queens being prettier than theirs. Perhaps, more seriously, speaking to local beekeepers is out of politeness, communication and support networks and also, what was said to be the most important, to know, locally, what bees are doing; are there any local diseases, what is the honey flow like and simply to avoid any surprises locally.

I knew of two beekeepers near me which I felt I should make contact with. Both of them were probably within a half a mile of where I am planning to put my bees so I thought it apt to start there. There was one beekeeper who lives in a fantastic house in the heart of the village who apparently runs about 7 hives and sells his honey to the village. The other beekeeper was only a distant rumour. There is a farmshop at the bottom of our small, bump ridden, car killing road and supposedly they ran some hives. After further investigation it wasn’t the lovely lady at the shop who always takes a shine to Sebastian, but it was actually a commercial beekeeper who stores some of his hives there. Yikes! Is this guy really going to want to talk to me I thought at the time!

Its funny but I felt quite nervous while trying to get hold of them as I simply didn’t know what to expect. Here was I, this young, enthusiastic, naive, new beekeeper trying to say hello (wasn’t sure what else to say!) to these super human beekeepers who have probably been doing it for years.

Anyway, before Christmas I spent some time drafting a nice, polite and well thought through letter to the owner of the big house in the village, complementing them on the fact that I noticed they have a nice garden (??!!) and just saying hello. To this day I have heard nothing! Oh well. That made me even more self conscious about speaking to this commercial beekeeper who obviously doesn’t use an estate car to drive around his hives (see previous post about this sort of madness) but probably was like those professional beekeepers in the US I have heard about who drive around in lorries full of hives shipping them from State to State and orchard to orchard.

I had a name given to me but the lovely lady at the shop stating that this mans name was Derek so tentatively I called him up this evening (quite glad that I had a corporate meeting today and therefore a few glasses of wine were sunk beforehand – nice corporate meeting hey!?). His son answered the phone so I thought this might not be too bad. Here I was expecting this booming voice (why? I have no idea), and this nice gentle voice said hello. “Hi Derek, my name is James” I said, “and I would like to have some hives nearby the farm in Newdigate please”.

The rest, they say, is history. Admittedly he was immediately worried that I just had this crazy idea to start beekeeping, which is actually not far from the truth, but was relieved to hear that I had done a course and was obviously serious about it all. After that, it was really nice to speak to a beekeeper (who had 30 hives incidentally) and has again made it all a little bit more real and he has invited me to the Spring check – whenever that may be – how exciting.