Man has been beekeeping for millennia – there are pictures of beehives on temples dating back to 2,500 BC. So there must be something in it!
If you’re thinking of taking up beekeeping, why not join us for a one-day beekeeping course in November 2012? Or read on to be persuaded…
- Bees produce fresh honey
A beehive can produce as much as 20-40lbs of honey in a good year. Eden’s Julie Kendall, who looks after Eden’s 13 hives and is teaching our beekeeping course in November 2012, says she loves ‘that first moment when you open up the hive after the winter and see how well they’ve done. Like spring flowers, it signifies the start of the year for me.’
- Bees help with the garden
OK, so they don’t actually don fork and trowel, but bees do encourage you to create a lovely garden with flowers that will keep your bees busy. Plus, if you’re cultivating fruit, bees will pollinate these and help produce more. That’s why Eden’s hives are next to the apple trees in our orchard.
- Bees keep you calm
Believe it or not but Julie says that ‘being with 50,000 bees’ is the most relaxing part of her week: ‘The calmer you are, the calmer they are; it’s a symbiosis, because they pick up vibes. You can’t be stroppy with bees!’
- Beekeeping isn’t hard
You don’t need a big garden to keep bees. What bees really need is a clear ‘flight path’ from the hive, enabling them to fly several miles in search of nectar. It’s not difficult to get hold of bees; you can buy a nucleus of bees from breeders.
- Bees need help
In the past two years numbers of honeybees in the UK have dropped by 10-15% because of bad weather and infection. We need bees to pollinate the plants that produce our food. One in three mouthfuls we eat is dependent on pollination; the role honeybees play in this is thought to be worth £120-200 million a year.
One-day beekeeping course at Eden
Julie, one of Eden’s Skilled Horticulturalists, is leading a one-day beekeeping course here at the Eden site in November 2012, where you’ll be able to learn the theory behind this ancient craft. She’ll cover the different types of bees, their roles in the hive, pests and diseases, the range of hives, and of course honey extraction.
Five bee facts you didn’t know
- Queen bees only lay eggs for three years of their eight-year life. When you ‘requeen’, she is sent through the post in a tiny cage!
- In winter the population of a beehive drops from 50,000 to 20,000 as the male drones are kicked out to die.
- Bees can fly up to 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey.
- Romans used honey, instead of gold, to pay their taxes.
- They also used them as weapons. As did the people of Chester in AD 908 when besieged by Danish troops. Apparently the English defenders dropped wicker hives full of bees on to their attackers, who gave up severely stung.
Learn more about beekeeping from the British Beekeepers Association, who can also help you find your local association.