I have just finished the Beginner's Bee Keeping course with the Bishop Stortford Bee Keepers Association .  It has been lovely to put the kids to bed of an evening and then drive over to Hopleys Garden Centre in Much Hadham to listen, learn and talk about bees with others as enthusiastic (if not more so) as I.  The course was great and I met a lovely group of people, both BSBKA members, committee and fellow "newbies"; thank you all!

In the second week we all made a hive, split into teams we each worked on a different section of the hive.  The team I was in made the brood box and frames.  It was great to realise that with basic carpentry skills I will be able to build and maintain my bees' home.  And doing something with my hands, made the course come alive for me.  I've been babbling about bees to anyone who will listen ever since, reading up on these fascinating creatures, and getting more and more excited that I will soon be a bee keeper.  At the end of the session, whoever emailed first could buy the hive we'd all built.  I was home in a flash and emailed my interest, so here she is in the garden at Ash Cottage.

Thank you John for delivering it - look at that dappled light in the photo.  Apparently bees are into a bit of dappled light.

So, I have the hive and frames, I'm hoping to pick up my first colony of bees on the May Bank Holiday weekend.  I have been browsing the bee keeping suppliers websites for about 4 weeks now in various states of confusion.  I am just about ready to purchase what I think are the absolute essential things I'll need to have for the bees arrival: 
Bee keeper's all in one suit (v. important!), 
J shaped hive tool, 
bee brush, 
1 gallon contact feeder,
...that's what I've got on my order, is there anything else that those of you with more experience than I would say I have to have?

I thought it was the honey and doing my bit for the environment that would be my main interest in bee keeping, but I have become fascinated by the creatures themselves.  Bees are amazing.  Don't get me wrong the honey is still a big attraction.  Little Una Fox gets repeated bouts of tonsillitis.  We use Manuka honey to treat it, and if we catch it early enough it prevents going to the doctors for antibiotics.  I am hoping to switch to raw honey from our own hive for the same result.

And then of course there are all the delicious things you can make with honey.  Sarah, my fellow newbie noticed The Guardian had an article on the Ten Best Honey Recipes  the other weekend, I fancy making the Madeleines.

So soon I will be a bee keeper! < small scream of excitement >

To the land where the honey runs
In rivers each day
And the sweet tastin' good life
Is so easily found
A way over yonder
That's where I'm bound

"A Way Over Yonder" lyrics by Carole King

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