Beekeeping is both a solitary and a social activity. While tending hives is often done in isolation, there’s benefits from joining an association and getting to know other beekeepers in order to tap into their experience and knowledge. While this is standard advice to anyone interested in getting started, at the present time it’s unlikely to be possible.
The word on everyone’s lips is coronavirus or Covid-19. The British Beekeeping Association issued a statement on 19th March, alongside guidance on keeping your distance for all beekeepers to follow and the National Beekeeping Unit has detailed advice on COVID-19 and Beekeeping. At the time of writing bees are considered as livestock and can be tended accordingly, and DEFRA have now released a statement on visits to tend to bees during Covid-19 Associations are recommending beekeepers print and keep this with them in case they’re challenged about travelling to tend to bees.
So far, so good. At least beekeeping has been recognised in terms of value and importance. I can continue getting started, albeit with precautions unanticipated when the journey began. My first bees will be gifted and the Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are being tended on a beekeeper’s allotment a few miles away. The term Nuc comes from the queen who is the nucleus of the colony. They consist of a few frames in a smaller box, which have been created from larger ones. Mine will be ready to be transported soon which gives me a bit more time to finish preparing their new home.
Coronavirus means the help planned for getting the top of the allotment ready has been postponed. Wood for the decking, alongside my 8 foot metal posts for the debris netting, are currently loaded in a trailer, in social isolation in Bridlington. I’m trying to source some netting poles locally while it looks like the hives will arrive before the decking. I’m not sure how the bees will respond to the noise and disruption of people working within the netted area so it’s likely the wood, when it finally arrives, will need to be stored and used elsewhere.
In the meantime, I’ll continue levelling the ground and cutting back the brambles. The bindweed needs controlling to avoid it spreading so the hives will stand on wood chip covered membrane, while the rest of the area will be carpeted. A friend has donated some bright red Axminister so at least the bee space will be colourful!
Coronavirus is affecting everyone and we’re all feeling it in one way or another. However, for the time being at least, beekeeping is protected, and with sensible precautions in place, I’m hopeful by the end of April my first hives will be in place and occupied, while I look forward to opportunities to take more photos of bees like the ones on these pages. The thought is providing a beacon of light and hope in these dark, uncertain times.