Last year at Dorchester Show there was lots of interest from people who might like to take up beekeeping but we had nothing on our programme in the near future to follow up their interest and introduce them to the craft. Having learned, this year we arranged a beeginners’ evening in Dorchester and advertised it to people visiting the bee tent.
The meeting was this evening and we were prepared for a damp squib. I sent messages to my apprentices, Rosie and Nicky, hoping they would turn up to swell numbers and mingle with other beekeepers but they were both busy. I needn’t have worried as about 10 people turned up. Our orator-in-chief, Chris Donaghy, spoke from notes, telling them all about getting started (with a few interruptions from me), then, after a question and answer session, people could chat with us and look at the exhibits, including the BBKA mock hive with photos of bees etc on the frames.
Many of the beeginners came as a group from a Church in Weymouth where they already have a couple of hives and are looking to expand. Their idea is to produce honey for those on the breadline, of whom there are quite a few in the town, and also to introduce people who have personal problems to the art and craft of beekeeping in the hope that it might change their lives for the better.
As soon as the formal session ended I was approached by a chap who introduced himself and told me that he had wanted to meet me and had been reading my blog. He used to live in my village, but when he left, back in 1967, what is now my house was then a barn. He told me about other changes in the area. At one time his family lived a stone’s throw from where I’m sat in an old cottage which has just been re-thatched. He is a mason and among his regular clients is the local landowner who lives over the road from me and with whom he is discussing siting a few hives there. We’re meeting on Friday so I can advise on sites, and maybe get a slot for myself thereabouts.
A lady came up to me and reminded me that last year I had removed a colony of Bombus hypnorum in a bird box from her garden in Weymouth. Her daughter in law is allergic; otherwise they could have stayed. She now wants to take up beekeeping.
Then I got chatting with a lass and the subject veered onto top bar hives. My mention that they are better for people who aren’t such control freaks as the National hivers struck a chord with her. She and her friend (who’s face rang a bell with me) want to come to visit apprentice Sarah’s Bee Happy Plants nursery where, between us, we run three TBHs, including the experimental one that Sarah monitors for mites and other fallen debris, including pollen loads. I’m sure Sarah will welcome more visitors!
Eventually the session ended. Carrying some of the props back to the cars, I encountered the churchy crowd outside, clustered in a corner (I guess one of them stopped for a ciggy) so joined them for a chat. I told the lass who’s face I had seen before that I knew her from somewhere. Her response was that people often say that to her. She didn’t seem to recognise me. I asked her what else she did in Weymouth. Dogs were mentioned so I asked whether she knew J.I. who is caninsane and also goes to a non-com church, but I know not which. That rang the bell! She had met me at one of my granddaughters’ birthday parties.
It’s a small world!