By Emma Barker
While even the sun shone for the Beeble Idler Beekeeping Day on Saturday 14 May, what really stood out for those of us who spent most of it in a white bee suits was chatting to the other participants.
My stand-out favourite was the only actual bee-keeper among our wannabe group, Nigel Barnett, a master blacksmith from Framsham in Norfolk who had been given the gift of the day by his daughter. Nigel, an accidental bee keeper had been keeping bees for the past four years, since a swarm of bees arrived in his garden from a neighbour’s chimney. Nigel had deftly caught the swarm in an open cardboard box, and the rest was stuff of legends. Not having a clue what to do with them, he bought a beehive and stuck the cardboard box next to it. “ I was amazed just to watch the bees walk into it”. Nigel, who summed up our bafflement at the complexity of beekeeping by saying “every bee keeper tells you something different”, then simply “let the bees get on with it”.
Keeping his new beehive across a bridge and over a river next to his blacksmith workshop, he quickly found that he was drawn to the bees on an inexplicable level. “I often go over in my lunch break and play the flute next to them – I find it therapeutic, and it gets me away from work”. Within a year, his one hive had expanded to three, as the bees multiplied rapidly, and even more welcome were the unexpected three gallons of honey he harvested recently. “I gave it all away, my daughter was particularly grateful because it seemed to help her hay fever, and I found a way to use the wax for my workshop tools. My other daughter started making beeswax candles for presents".
How had he found the Beeble Idler Beekeeping day? “Very interesting, and much more relaxed and a laid back ‘easy beekeeping approach than I had expected”. Nigel’s big takeaway from the day was to go home and to try and make mead. “If I sell some, I’ll give the money to charity”, he decided. “After all, I do it for the bees, the honey is just a perk”.