In June 2012, we moved from St Albans to Somerset, exchanging the dubious delights of urban commuter belt life for something a bit more rural. Having been a townie all my life, I wasn’t sure how this would work out – indeed, I have to say I resisted the idea for several years – but so far it’s been pretty wonderful.
I can’t quite remember when or why the idea lodged itself into my brain, but at some point during the process of buying our new property it struck me that I could keep bees here. This would be my “moving to the country” thing. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
Several reasons. First of all, bees are cool. Inside each hive, there’s a whole complex society going on, different in mood and temperament from the society in the hive next door. But bees are also under threat, from a whole slew of new pests and artificial fertilisers; Britain needs beekeepers. Thirdly, beekeepers are cool people. Take a look at this newspaper front page:
Yes, that’s Mr (shortly to be Sir) Edmund Hillary, a “34-year-old New Zealand bee-keeper”. Nuff said, I think.
But the most decisive factor in my wanting to keep bees was this: YOU GET TO WEAR A SPECIAL SUIT. Forget all that Henry Thoreau “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes” bollocks, buying special clothes is the PRIMARY REASON for getting involved in a new enterprise. And there is no special clothing on the planet that is cooler than a bee suit.
So I signed up for a beekeeping course in February, and I was very pleased to note that the rest of the participants were just as geeky as myself. These were my people, I felt. I had come home.
Over the next few months – years, maybe – I will be sharing my journey (did I really say that?) towards becoming a fully-fledged beekeeper, and I invite you to follow all my triumphs and tragedies. Do leave a comment if you find any of it interesting.