London has 20 new beekeepers

Finally, the 20 trainees on the Co-op-funded beekeeping course at Camley Street Natural Park in King’s Cross are each the proud owner of a colony of honeybees.  

The hives had been lovely assembled as homework some weeks ago and were patiently waiting (along with the trainees) in gardens, backyards and allotments across the capital for their new occupants. There were no shortage of trainees willing to make the trip out to Surrey last week to pick up the 10,000 bee-strong colonies from the supplier I arranged to buy them from at the beginning of the summer. In the end, three people met me in hatchbacks and then distributed the bees in their respective areas of London.

After months of diligently attending the Tuesday night course to learn both the theory and the practical stuff  at the four hives on site, how did it feel to actually have bees at home? Were they prepared?

Esther said: ”I was so excited I nearly popped!”  when her bees arrived in darkness. Her partner carried  them onto the north London allotment  where they will live. “I love them already” she added.  The following evening she had a small welcoming ceremony for her bees with family and friends and a local beekeeper which included bee poems and thanks to the Co-op and myself for giving her this wonderful opportunity to keep bees.

Volker, whose bees ended their journey from Surrey on the back of his bike, are now happily located in a city farm in east London. He sums up many a new beekeepers’ sentiment when he says “Just a shame we’re not supposed to have a look for a week [after they have been transfered from the nuc box to the hive]“.

Not everyone remembered that the roof won’t go on the hive when you give your bees a welcome feed, unless an empty super box is added, so I sent out some reminder notes.

A week on and the sense of excitement, joy and wonder is still palpable.

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