Wednesday, 15 September 2010


For a long time now Mr Fairyglade has wanted to keep bees. So off he went to do a course with a local bee keeper and Defra and hey presto...bees! Thousands of them actually, tucked up inside a couple of carboard boxes. Lift the lid and there they were all buzzing around..quite amazing really.

They have spent all summer flying backwards and forwards collecting nectar to make the most amazing tasting honey.

Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing in the beginning. The idea that you just put them into a hive and leave them to it is a bit naive. There is actually a lot of work involved and we were beset by problems early on when they kept swarming. It is quite amazing to see and hear.

It was a warm springlike day and everything appeared normal. Until that is, Mr Fairyglade was suddenly aware of rather a lot of buzzing, an angry sort of buzzing. Cautiously making his way into the meadow area where the hive is situated, he saw hundreds of bees swarming in the air and making for a large shrub opposite the hive. A seething mass of brown. What to do was the question?

On went the funny garb, the recycling box grabbed off the shelf along with a pair of secateurs and a lot of gumption on his part having never had to deal with this before. It doesn't look that bad from a distance does it?

How about a closer look...there must easily be a couple of thousand bees on this branch which he had to lop of the bush..very scary actually.

The trick is to get them back into the hive before they set off for pastures new, taking the queen with them. It's quite a lot to lose when you consider that she is worth around £40 and a single box of bees as picture at the beginning of the post is £160.

So, Mr Fairyglade, with nerves of steel and a cast iron bladder in my opinion, very carefully and patiently put them into a second hive, swiftly thrown together. The trick is to place the branch inside a box and tap it hard so that as many bees as possible fall inside. At this point I must say that they were not particularly happy to be jolted into a big black box and flew into the air in protest. But, with patience and much holding of breath, Mr Fairyglade managed to get the main body safely inside.

Phew, what a relief for all concerned and by evening calm reigned once more in the meadowy area.

A few weeks ago, all his efforts, and theirs for that matter, resulted in the most delicious tasting honey ever. Golden jars of pale amber nectar, the clarity of which is truly beautiful.

Overall, we have filled 12 of these half pound jars, 3 Bon Maman ones and at least another pint and a half in a sterile pot because we have run out of said jars. Not bad for our first attempt. Delicious on toast and poured over warmed figs, scrumptious.

Dev x


Lululiz said...

You guys sure are adventurous, not sure I could handle getting that close to thousands of buzzing bees. But its all worth it to get your very own honey, right? What a pleasure that must be.

marigold jam said...

Lovely honey but I think I'll pass on keeping bees having ended up at the hospital after accidentally treading on one and getting stung! I am happy to see them but just don't ask me to do anything like Mr Fairyglad had to do or even to be in the vicinity!!


Julia said...

Hello Dev! I have thoroughly enjoyed this post, was literally on the edge of my seat as I was wondering what the outcome would be!! Glad to see it was a happy ending anyway, and your brave husband looks quite the part and very professional! The honey looks delicious, what a wonderful thing to have your very own bees!

Sending love
Julia x x x

VintageVicki said...

Wow. I've always been facinated by bees & honeymaking. Just not sure I could do the whole beekeeper thing - I'd be terrified of being stung.

Well done on your first honey harvest :)

Alexandra Mason said...

Great post, i love honey, and i love your photos of Hector in your previous post, he is so gorgeous, i can't believe how much Fee looks like him :) x

Pipany said...

Oh Dev, I am so envious. Dave has always wanted to keep bees, so I will show him this post tomorrow. Very blooming brave if you ask me! x

melanie said...

Oh wow, brilliant, what a lovely thing to do, I would like to keep bee's, I think it is a wonderful hobby :) xxx

Merruli said...

That honey looks so good. What a wise choice for a hobby of your husband, it makes your garden and flowers flourish and you get something sweet on the toast!

CT said...

I wish I could convince my hubby to keep bees. Mind you, not where we live now, but rather in our future dream home. We already have the hens and roosters, and a few edibles planted (bell peppers, tomatoes and such)

What a cool adventure you both had!!!!