Beekeeping in a Quaker Garden

I’ve been a beekeeper for over twenty years and have been beekeeping  at the Friends Meeting House in Southport for at least eighteen years. My records from the Quaker bees start in 2005. I’ve enjoyed my time there.

The garden is a lovely peaceful place and the friends have always been kind, considerate and understanding.  The neighbours too have mostly enjoyed having colonies so close. Though swarming happens the  swarm is usually reported, caught and rehived quickly.

As with most Meeting Houses the friends hire out the premises to other groups. I take care not to inspect the colonies when these groups are using the facilities – though the bees are sometimes not so considerate. I’ve had some interesting calls from people who are using the hall when the bees have decided to swarm.

This year has been extraordinary as far as swarming is concerned. The vast amount of swarms has even made it onto the BBC news. A couple of weeks ago I enlisted a friend to help me split the hive to stop it swarming. We arrived at 2.30, with all the equipment for splitting the colony, just in time to watch the swarm leave the hive and settle on a tree in the garden.  Fortunately it was easily within reach and we hived it and sent it to a beekeeper who had lost colonies over the winter.

Next year I will be 70 years old and have decided to limit my beekeeping to my home garden. It is with some reluctance that I’ve decided that this will be my last year beekeeping for the Quakers. I’ve loved every minute of it but realise that I need to downsize if my hobby will still remain a joy and not become a chore.

I’m more than happy to teach beekeeping and if the friends decide they want another beekeeper I’ll be happy to recommend one.


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