An insight into the wonderful world of bees
We are delighted to be harvesting our first Boconnoc honey this year from our new hives with the help of Peter. We asked Peter a few questions to gain a better insight into the fascinating world of bees.
When did your interest in beekeeping start and what is it about bees that you find so appealing?
I have always had an interest in nature and wildlife, having spent part of my childhood in Cornwall with both beaches and moorland to explore. I had a school friend who’s father was a beekeeper; although I confess I was more attracted by the white bee suit than the bees at the time! Sometime later I started helping him as his ‘Smoker’. Smokers are basically a metal container filled with dry wood shaving, bellows and funnell. Smoke is gently puffed over the bees which calms them. You then open up the hive, extracting frame on frame of bees exposing the amazing world of the bee. You will see huge populations (as many as 60,000 bees) in high summer living in harmony and order with one another under one roof. Stunning.
Why are bees important?
Over the years I have learnt how both bees and other pollinators give us so much more variety in both our food and colour in our gardens and countryside. A major part of our eco system, enriching our lives in so many ways.
What are the greatest threats to the bee population?
There are many threats to our bees. Perhaps global warming, increase in human population, pollution, our lack of understanding for the natural world and where our food comes from. Although I think this is slowly changing.
What can we do as individuals to ensure the bee population does not diminish?
By becoming more sensitive to both our own needs and the creatures we share this world with.We are part of it after all! Each and every one of us can make a difference. Planting bee friendly plants, joining in conservation projects, being more knowledgeable on what we eat (has it been pollinated by an insect), perhaps you could grow something in a window box, garden or allotment. Leaving that patch of brambles in the corner of the garden which will flower and provide nectar for all insects/butterflies; in turn providing you with a crop of blackberries. Leaving that patch of dandelions which are an amazing food plant for all insects – changing our thinking!
Has the lockdown had any impact on bees?
The lockdown has had a positive impact on bees. With more people spending time at home, planting flowers, sowing seeds; so many more flowers that will benefit all insects this summer. On their walks people have had more time to look at both plants and insects. Going home to look species up with the help of google etc. They will take all this forward in some way or other after lockdown has been lifted.
What are the nutritional benefits of honey?
Honey is rich in antioxidants, it helps improve cholesterol. Local honey also helps hay fever suffers and has proven antibacterial properties. Honey is also used in wound dressing.
Can anyone keep bees? What equipment do you need?
Yes almost anyone can keep bees, I would suggest to join a club where you will have the assistance of people who can both guide you and give you confidence in learning more about the craft. All branches will have a sale of bee equipment, and bees from time to time. You will meet all sorts of people with many interesting talks in the winter. Cornwall Beekeepers Association has branches at Bodmin and Liskeard.
What type of bees do we have at Boconnoc in our new hives and what changes will the hives bring to the estate?
You have a hybrid bee here. Most of my bees come from the Fowey area, adapted to mild, wet winters. I am very interested in becoming involved with the Cornish Black Bee project.
When will the honey at Boconnoc be ready for harvesting?
Honey (if we have a harvest!) will be in late august time.
Thank you so much to Peter for contributing to our blog and opening our eyes to the fascinating world of bees. We are very excited to be harvesting our first batch of honey this year with Peters assistance.
Peter sells his delicious honey here.