This afternoon I rang the American who had approached me at the Show and invited me to keep bees at his Manor as the current beekeeper was giving up. He invited me over for a chinwag and perusal so I headed that way.
He was a little busy when I got there so I was shown around the grounds by the lady of the manor and the gardener. The grounds are of undulating, closely cropped lawn with lots of mature trees and a scattering of sculptures and other three dimensional artwork.
There were a couple of beeless National hives, covered with ivy, in a very shaded corner; also an empty WBC that was really for show in a prominent position next to paths and a horse paddock. Neither location was really suitable for an apiary. The gardener almost had a heart attack when I suggested that the lawn be turned into a wild flower meadow!
There was one place that might have been suitable for the bees and I described the method of using netting to get the bees to fly above head height, but this as thought to be visually undesirable. So we drew a blank there, but all was not lost. They have a second manor house a mile or so away, so we went there. This one has a cider orchard and, in a corner, was a small apiary, beeless but with lots of wasps. This apiary, too, had clearly not been visited for many months.
We agreed that I should take over the site next year. The current ex-beekeeper will be requested to remove his kit by Christmas, giving him plenty of time. We discussed payment and I explained the traditional fee of a jar of honey per hive per annum, giving a value of £77,000 per acre. She agreed that this was acceptable.
Now I have to work out where I shall get the extra bees from! I have a TBH a couple of miles away but I was planning to split that to set up my friend who owns that site with a TBH of her own. Maybe I can split it twice, or perhaps the hives on the organic Fromore Farm nearer home might be suitable. I have to get them through the winter first though!