A guest blog by Terri Fosker

I recently took over the role of beekeeper as part of my job at Lakeside Care Farm, which is situated in the heart of the Lower Moor Farm reserve.  Our apiary is in a fantastic location surrounded by over 125 hectares of unspoilt wildflower meadows, woodland, hedges and lakes - truly perfect for honeybees. 

ApiaryThe apiary

With over two years of beekeeping experience assisting at hive inspections and the honey harvest, I still found that my first solo visit to the apiary was filled with mixed feelings of excitement, apprehension and trepidation. However, I needn’t have worried at all, because I instantly recalled the voice of my predecessor imparting his knowledge and enthusiasm whilst talking through the process of what I should look for and what I could see. It actually felt like second nature to me, and I soon found myself chatting away to thousands of bees as I checked their hives! I knew I had officially become a “real” beekeeper after about a month, when one day, after discovering eggs and larvae in the brood box, I proudly exclaimed, “Well done, that’s amazing - you’re all such good girls!” 

Eggs and larvaeHoneybee eggs and larvae

Putting humour aside, I am definitely well and truly hooked.  I find that beekeeping has so many calming and therapeutic qualities, and each time I visit the apiary it feels like time stands still, leaving me totally at one with nature. The incredible sound of a colony of honeybees communicates their mood, just by listening to the pitch of their collective buzzing. It tells me when they are comfortable with me intruding into their home, and also when they’ve had enough.

I often visit the apiary with colleagues or students, and I am proud to pass on my knowledge to them during their beekeeping experience.  Recently, during one of those apiary visits, a fascinated eight year old student summed it up perfectly when he said, “Please don’t hurt the bees, they’re beautiful.”

Every time I leave the apiary I feel liberated and full of respect for these awe-inspiring creatures that work so incredibly hard during their very short lives. We can learn so much from honeybees, and I am looking forward to continuing my beekeeping journey for a long time to come.

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