Dimly aware of publicity regarding “Bees under threat”, I was out for a drive one Sunday when my attention was caught by a roadside poster near Yalding announcing a “Bee Fayre”.
My inquisitiveness took me to a field in the centre of Yalding where many stalls were assembled offering various country crafts and lots of bee related products and information. There was a glass fronted hive to watch the bees at work, and a demonstration area where a live hive was opened and bee handling techniques demonstrated.
Close to the refreshment tent – stuffed full of treats including honey cake – was a pile of what looked like firewood ready for November 5th, which actually turned out to be “cherished second hand beekeeping equipment” to be auctioned later that day.
Intrigued but not entirely convinced that Beekeeping should be my next hobby, I signed up for the course being run by a long established local beekeeper, Chris Morris, in the February at the Yalding Village Hall and on completion of the theory sessions was able to visit the Apiary for a little “hands on” experience (in those days we did not have the comprehensive training days, nor bee suits for visitors that we have today).
I decided to take the plunge, joined the club and visited Chris Morris’ shop in Yalding, coming away with lots of strange bits of timber that required assembly (no instructions!), a smoker, hive tool and bee suit. Chris also arranged for me to get a colony of bees from his supplier in France
By the time my bees arrived I had assembled my hive parts and attended several more sessions at our Apiary where James Salter, Julian Newton, the apiary managers, plus Chris Morris and Ken Taylor, beekeepers of long standing, demonstrated the basic skills of beekeeping – I was up and running! In spite of making the usual mistakes, thanks to my mentors I succeeded in getting some honey in year 1 !