Beekeeping – A Marvellous Hippy Hobby
It is well known that hippy’s love all things nature and love to find ways to help sustain the health of the earth – There are many ways in which we can help and one of my absolute favourites is beekeeping.
Many people don’t actually realise just how important honey bees are and why we really really need to do all we can to help the species survive. The main thing that the little beauties do to help us meagre humans survive in this world is pollination.
What is pollination?
Well, in a nutshell pollination is the transfer of pollen to a flower, plant, tree or shrub etc to allow fertilisation for growth. There are many things that pollinate however bees are responsible for the pollination of about 1/3 of food eaten. Wow right, that’s alot! Bees will take the pollen between the flowering plants which means that the plants can then reproduce.
Bees really are essential for human life on this planet but unfortunately they are dying out. It really is of the utmost importance that we educate both ourselves and others in the importance of bees and why they are so vital. They really are amazing little creatures!
Beelieve it or not bees pollinate most plants around the globe, around 84% in fact. From coffee to fruit, veg and even our most prized flower gardens. The bees are responsible for keeping them all going. We have a hell of a lot to thank the bees for and what better a way than looking out for them?!
Albert Einstein once said “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years left to live” I cannot say if this time frame is correct however, it does have an awful lot of truth in it. As well as pollinating the plants that we eat, they also pollinate the plants that we feed to cattle and livestock. This of course effects the meat and dairy trade. Without the bees, the yield and quantity of our treasured foods would decrease and we would not have enough to feed us all. We really would be up shit creek if we let them die out. Let’s not let this happen folks!
How can we help?
You can help by either sponsoring a beehive or, you can do the best thing ever and become a beekeeper. Rather a daunting thought I know however, it need not bee. Once you start it is hard not to fall in love with the beautiful little things. They are fascinating and beekeeping is not without its perks. You get to meet amazing new friends, you get honey (potentially lots of it!), beeswax, pollen and even propolis. Of course, the most important perk that you get is the knowledge that you really ARE helping.
Join your local beekeeping association and sign up for a course which will tell you all that you need to know in order to start your own beekeeping journey. Most will run taster sessions so that you can get an idea of what is needed. You can do an actual course which will teach you all about the bees and what you need to provide a stable home for them and help them survive.
There will even be hands on days at the apiary. These are so that you can see what it really is like to go into and work on a hive. You will get to see what work is required whilst being surrounded by bees. They are inquisitive little buggers so be prepared for them to bump into you. You will have a bee suit on so you will be safe but just remember, it is their home that you are entering and so you need to respect their territory. The loud buzzing of a full and busy hive is a wonderful sound and one you come to love. It is really actually quite relaxing.
Our Journey So Far
There has been a love for bees in the family for sooo long. I just knew that at some stage I would keep bees. After attending a course with our local association, the head hippy and I started beekeeping in May 2017 and I so wish that we had done it sooner. Unfortunately we weren’t in the position to be able to do so before but we are now… 🙂
We took collection of our bees on the 5th of May 2017 (the day that is now known as bee day) and have not looked back.
We have learnt so much about bees and want to expand from our one hive to two this spring. I have been told once you have one you will want more. I am trying to currently work out how many will fit in our garden…… Who knew that keeping bees would be addictive?! They don’t require lots of looking after and most of the time you can just leave them to it. It really is a hippy hobby that you can take great pleasure in. You even get to wear a cool beesuit – mine is of course a nice orange which is the best colour ever….. I just need to jazz it up some so that it can match the rest of my hippy clothing. Maybe add a patch or two so its looks like real hippie clothing…
In our first beekeeping year we harvested around 80lbs of the yummy golden stuff. That is such a huge amount from just one hive – it was beautiful too. We gave lots away to friends and family who could not believe the difference between honey pulled from one hive and the honey that you buy in the shops.
Did you know that most honey bought in supermarkets is a blend of many different honey’s from around Europe?? We didn’t either, the taste really is so different. Now we have tasted our own honey we will never be able to go back to shop bought again.
There are rules and regulations around beekeeping and treatment of diseases etc but you can learn all you need to know through your local associations and other online forums etc.
We have had the wonderful help of the guys at Stratford and District Beekeepers Association and they have been amazing.
The course was just brilliant and really told us what we needed to know to get us started and, they helped us get our bees. They even assign a mentor to you after the course that you can ask questions to and that will help you out. We have a wonderful mentor called Mike who really is a font of knowledge. All of the guys who run the course actually are amazing.
You can talk to them about anything from advice on which hive to buy and what hive tools and smokers are the best. There are so many places you can buy from so get some advice and do some research. We have found that Maismore’s in Gloucestershire is excellent. Very friendly and helpful.
Click the following links for a few websites that we have found helpful;
It is a misconception that you need masses of space to keep bees but this is wrong. You don’t need acres of land and many people have them in their back yard. Anyone can do it. It is great for people of all ages, including kids. You can keep one or two hives as a hobby or, you can set up your own apiary and start to harvest honey that you can either trade or sell to your local farm shops etc. If you collect and keep hold of the wax too you can make yourself some candles 🙂
Please, I urge you to really and seriously look into becoming a beekeeper or at least speaking to your local association and finding out how you can help. It really does help and the bees really do need our help! I for one cannot just sit by knowing that they are a dying breed and that I could have done something to help. We need them more than they need us! Scary thought….
We absolutely understand that this subject is going to be a bit awkward with some of our vegan hippies. The debate about using things that bees produce is against vegan views and will be a conversation that continues long into the future. But you don’t have to harvest the honey or any other bee product to keep bees and so can still help by looking after bees.
Start your journey to beekeeper or bee helper today. You will not look back and will not regret it.
Peace, Love & Light
The Hippy Beekeepers xxxx