Hi.....my name is Chris and I keep bees. The idea came quite a few years ago when I read an article about the resurgence of urban beekeeping which talked about the fact that you did not necessarily have to live in the middle of nowhere, or on a farm, to successfully keep bees.
However, I was in a very stressful job working for a well known telecommunications company. I had to work long hours and travel all over the country so my thoughts about becoming a beekeeper were put to one side, but not forgotten.
Then an opportunity arose where I could take early retirement and my beekeeping ambition came to fruition around ten years ago.
After some “beginners” lessons I gradually became hooked and eventually ended up with ten hives.
My main interest is in looking after the bees. They are simply incredible creatures, each with their own tasks to do around the hive – guarding the hive entrance, feeding the queen, cleaning the little cells, looking after the baby bees, scouting for new sources of nectar, pollen and water. The list goes on. Of course you get the occasional sting, but this is usually the fault of the beekeeper being a little clumsy. A bee will only sting as a last resort as they die after stinging you. It is an occupational hazard.
The by product of all this is that, in return for looking after the bees, they produce the most wonderful honey. It would be very easy to become greedy and take all the honey they produce, but this is their food store and a good beekeeper will only take the surplus. The honey I take from the hives is placed in a centrifuge to spin the honey from the hive frames. It is then run through a mesh filter to remove any “bits” and then put straight into jars. There is no blending or heat treatment – just raw honey.
I sold the honey from the house and the occasional farmers market but this only subsidises my hobby and will never make me rich – more like offsetting some of my costs.
At one farmers market a customer complained that, as I got the honey for nothing, the price was too high. I had to point out that beekeeping is actually a rather expensive hobby and the day my business actually made a profit, I would write a letter to the Times. When you take into account the cost of the hives themselves, colonies of bees, honey extraction equipment, jars, specially printed labels, winter feed and so on – it can be pretty expensive. We do not get the honey for nothing. You become a beekeeper because you love everything about beekeeping and the honey you collect is a small reward for your efforts.
We moved from busy Ashford in Kent to rural Scotland a few days before Christmas 2017. We wanted to live a more rural life with land, outbuildings, and views to die for and room to indulge our hobbies.
Besides beekeeping, my other passion is wood. I am an avid wood turner. I transform “lumps” of wood into decorative, and sometimes even useful bowls, pots and containers of various types. I am also a woodcarver and spend time carving spoons, animals and other oddments just for my own satisfaction. During the winter months, when the workshop is too cold I will also be doing marquetry work.
All in all, the move to Scotland was the best thing we have ever done. Our only regret is that we did not do it years ago.