I have returned from a long week’s holiday (including 2 weekends) with an old drinking pal, Steve, who’d hired a caravan on a site just outside Polperro in Cornwall. Virtually the only exercise we got was walking down the hill to the village and then from pub to pub on the way back to the bus stop where we could use our pensioners’ passes for the uphill trip back. I gained 6 pounds in weight, which, in round terms, is roughly an ounce per pint of beer consumed!
On the Monday we ventured up to North Cornwall where, among other places, we dropped in at Steve’s plot of land ‘Forty’ (it’s forty leagues from his home). I have a couple of bait hives there and Steve saw some bees interested in one of them a few days before I joined him. Alas there was no sign of bee-life when we called.
On the way back we called at the Jubilee Inn at Pelynt, a village only a few miles from Polperro. They had a couple of cask beers to try and we were served by a lass called Laura. I can’t think how, but the conversation turned to bees and beekeeping. Laura and her partner, Ben, have an allotment somewhere near the cliff edge in Polperro and she is trying to make it bee-friendly and maybe, eventually, keep bees there herself. There is a hive on the allotments already. Cost would be an important consideration in them taking up beekeeping.
I made a few suggestions for plants and mentioned my apprentice, Sarah’s, Bee Happy Plants nursery, dedicated to that purpose. I also sketched on a sheet of paper the design of my top bar hive built for nothing from pallet wood and, item by item, the reasons for the features of the design. Laura told me that Ben is competent with tools and would be able to build one. I suggested that I could take her on as an apprentice and guide her through the initial learning curve of beekeeping. She seemed interested and, for some reason, enquired whether all my apprentices are female. I assured her that one of them, Dave, is of the masculine persuasion.
Next day, I found on my camera some photos of the top bar hive that I have set up at Sarah’s nursery so the following day I took the camera back to the Jubilee to show Laura. I also read to her and presented her with a copy of the poem I had written over breakfast that morning. It goes like this:
THE NEW APPRENTICE
Laura needs a flora
so that she can find
and plant on her allotment
flow’rs of the bee-food kind.
She’d like to keep some bees there:
it’s not against the rules.
The cost, though, would be hard to bear
of hives and all the tools.
I say it needn’t cost too much
as I built one for free.
Standard types, she needn’t touch:
the Top Bar’s good for me!
Upon a sheet of paper
I sketch out the design,
explaining reasons for the shape:
the patent’s wholly mine!
She’ll need help to get her started.
Here’s a chance too good to miss:
just because I’m so kind-hearted,
she’s my new apprentice!
I had an email from Laura today saying that they’re looking to buy some land, which would be a better place to keep bees than the allotment and they hope to get going with bees next year and seek my assistance then. I haven’t replied yet but will suggest that she joins the local BKA to get some hands-on experience and make local contacts this year. It would be wise to get her first sting before spending money and there may be somebody locally who can let her have a swarm and/or kit.