The Adventures of a Novice Beekeper

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Did I Say You Get To Wear A Special Suit?

As I said in my last post, the most important thing about being a beekeeper is that YOU GET TO WEAR A SPECIAL SUIT. As it happens, around about the time I wrote that, I sent off my order to the very wonderful BBWear.

As you can see from their website, there are several options to choose from, although the choice essentially comes down to between the old-school “floppy hat with a net dangling from it” retro style and the more trendy “fencing mask” option. Being the up-to-the-minute kind of person that I am, I went for the fencing mask. However, I’m not so modern that I’ve gone for a brightly coloured one, because, frankly, that’s the beekeeping equivalent of 20/20 cricket. It’s just not on.

Apparently if you buy one of their suits off-the-peg (although you really wouldn’t want to hang a bee suit on a peg, would you?) it arrives as near as dammit the next day. However, being an excessively tall person, I had to get mine made to measure, but even then it only took just over a week to appear. The total cost was ¬£118.95, which added to the cost of the beekeeping course, brings the running total to ¬£178.95.

And here it is, modelled by some beardy bloke:


Cool or what?

All I need now are some bees.

Getting the Buzz

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.

Why bees?

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:

Edmund Hillary Beekeper

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.

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