Remember back in October last year when I told you about my new hobby, urban beekeeping? Well, it’s taken eight whole months but I finally got to interact with some proper bees in hives last week. I realise that a visit to see something like 100,000 bees (seriously) would be some people’s worst nightmare, but I was ridiculously excited. Admittedly, this was largely because I wanted to put my recently acquired SLR camera in practice getting up close and personal with the Queen Bee.
Why did it take eight months? Well, let me explain. The reason I started beekeeping is because we’re getting a couple of hives where I work at John Lewis head office, as part of the Victoria Business Improvement District, a scheme which basically does what it says on the tin – it aims to enhance the area around Victoria station by working with local businesses. In an attempt to bring more biodiversity to the area, they’re helping us to set up hives. They’ve even built a local honey processing plant where we can take our raw honey and do whatever it is that we need to do to get it toast-ready and into jars (as you can tell, I’m still a total novice).
So back in October I started a ten week course of beekeeping theory lessons from Brian of Urban Bees, where we learnt all about what happens in a hive, how honey is produced and where baby bees come from. It’s seriously fascinating stuff, as you can find out in my Top 10 Un-bee-lievable facts about bees post.
Now that it’s almost summer, the empty hives are in place at John Lewis HQ, an official Beekeeping Club is being set up and we’re told that our our own bees will be appearing soon. In preparation, we took at trip to the Camley Street Natural Park, a beautiful green space right next to St Pancras station that I had no idea was there. It’s open to the public, you should go some time. We got kitted out in fetching beekeeper tunics and marigolds – I, completely by accident, managed to match my socks with my pink gloves – and headed for the hives.
I have to admit, as excited as I was it was still a little bit scary, because once the hives were open a LOT of bees started flying about. But it was really good fun. It was great holding a frame and watching the thousands of bees (there are up to 50,000 bees per hive) working away, pretty much ignoring us, even when we laid our hands right on top of their backs. I wish I could say that’s my naked hand in the photo, but I kept my gloves firmly in place at all times. Plus, I spent most of the time taking photos (yes, I was THAT annoying girl snapping away like a tourist in Piccadilly Circus). So here are a bunch of my photos, and you can see all the ones I took, if you wish, in this Flickr album.