The Joys of Beekeeping

In the world of Bee Keeping journals and magazines, there seems to be so much negativity at present. Varroa, AFB, EFB, CCD, swarming/failing queens, poor seasons, winter deaths, honey shortages, hive theft, arguments over insecticides and so it goes on; it’s almost as if, we, as Bee Keepers are trying to put people off keeping Bees.

I read the usual publications, the BBKA magazine, Bee Craft, Bee Talk, Bee base Website, S&DBKA magazine and various others, all of which serve the very useful purpose of advising how to manage your Bees and how to recognise and deal with problems when they arise. Some however, seem to revel in the gory details of what can go wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me, this information is very important, after all, “forewarned is forearmed”, however, what has struck me is, where is the fun bit?

If you watch and listen to some Bee Keepers talking about Bees, their faces light up. Their eyes take on a sparkle, they become excited and animated. They regale the new starter with fun anecdotes about how they have spilt honey all over the kitchen, dribbled wax over the carpet, taken pride in winning prizes at honey shows. They laugh about being stung several times whilst trying to manipulate a hive, exhibit pride in how they have supported their bees to come through the winter, or taken record amounts of honey off their favourite hive. Bee Keepers talk about how they have gathered swarms, housed them and watched them grow and develop, how much honey they have taken, they brag about their Bees as if they were their children, how much honey, how well the brood is doing, at times, they can be likened to Fishermen and the tale of the ‘one that got away’.

Some describe the pure pleasure of just standing slightly away from the hive on a lovely, balmy, summers evening, just watching the foraging bees returning home for the night after a hard day gathering stores.

Why, oh why isn’t this pleasure transcribed into words and put into our Bee Keeping publications? There are probably several reasons why people become Bee Keepers; I like everyone, have my own reasons. One of them being, it’s a hobby both my wife Jan and I can share and enjoy.

However, Jan and I continue to keep Bees because we are fascinated by these wonderful little creatures. Keeping Bees is, on occasion, hard work , it’s difficult to commit the time required. It can be, at times, a nuisance, having to do all that we do for our bees, but it’s worth it. We gain great pleasure from being around one of the most wonderful, important and complex creatures on the planet. Added to this, there is the honey.

I think Jan and I are so lucky to have discovered this pastime/hobby, call it what you will and I hope we transmit this pleasure to all we meet. I hope we enthuse people into becoming at least interested in Bees, even if it only makes them more aware, or thoughtful about when, or how to spray their roses.

We are lucky in that our Apiary, is in a lovely, secluded, riverside setting, therefore, it’s an opportunity to get out into the countryside. The Bees also give us a reason to go over to the New Forest whilst the heather is in bloom. We have a laugh when harvesting honey, share the work and also enjoy the fellowship of other Bee Keepers.

Please, let’s revel in the positive side of caring for Bees and not get too bogged down with the negative side, especially when talking to new or prospective Bee Keepers. If we can’t do that, then we run the risk of putting people off Bee Keeping; therefore, at the very least, please let's have a more balanced approach to reporting in our journals.