Cilla’s welcome to 2019 Beginners

Hello Prospective 2019 beginners.

I thought you might like to know some background, and how this years course has gone so you can get a flavour of what goes on.

I have been running the course in a morphing form for the past 15 years or so.

It started in my front room in Port St Mary when I as secretary of the Southern Beekeepers Association saw that beginners were wanting help.

I had had to teach myself as I took no interest when my Dad kept bees when I was a child.

It is now 40 years since I started and there is always new stuff to discover.  One should never stop learning.

To start with our course here on the Island had no practical part, you had to find a beekeeper and get them to show you, or you just dive in.

We started with a Teaching/ Breeding Apiary only a few years ago when our dear departed Keith Osborn picked up the baton and set up an Apiary for the Federation, using bees and site from another long time beekeeper who had sadly died.

We happily used this site alongside a footpath for a number of years but did worry about the fact we worked bees on Saturdays when most walkers were about.

We now have a new site at Marown Old School which we have used for a year.

The bees are happy there.  We have plenty of space for them, parking, toilet and kitchen facilities. And we only have a quiet road nearby to worry about.

Hopefully in future we may even have a workshop.

Last year was a bumper year for the course, with over 45 people joining out of the 150 who applied.

The numbers have increased year on year, surely we have peaked?

The numbers of people who actively take up beekeeping from the course is much smaller than the number who attend.

This is for a number of reasons.

Maybe they decide it will be too much work, particularly as you need to be around in the swarmy season of May June so as not to lose half you colony when they move house to someone’s chimney!

When folks find that keeping bees is more than just leaving a colony of bees in a pretty hive at the bottom of the garden and letting them get on with it, it does put some off!

But those who have hung on in, find that it is a fascinating and totally absorbing hobby.  The bees never do the same thing two years running!

However if you find that beekeeping is not for you, it will not have been a waste of time taking the course, as you will have gained an insight into the fascinating and complex world of bees.

Our native bees are creatures of nature and adapt to the seasons so much better than we do.  We have to learn from them rather than adapt them to our ways.

Beekeepers have learnt so much over the hundreds of years that we have “kept” bees, and we must learn from these people and their expertise and disasters!

Beekeeping is the practice of giving bees what they need and being repaid by their beautiful gift of honey.

1 September 2018