Colin Low, of Kingsfleet Wealth, tells I’m An Adviser how he came to be a bee keeper.
About six years ago, I wanted to do something with an environmental benefit so I started keeping bees.
They are the most common pollinators. Essentially, what they do is enable crops to grow and fruit to be produced. But they are under threat because of pesticides and disease. If we lose pollinators, plants will stop growing and that will be catastrophic.
I first got my own hive of bees at my allotment about four years ago. I now have four and around 200,000 bees.
It really isn't the sort of thing you can just pick up and do by yourself. I was helped by the dad of a childhood friend, who’d I’d known was into bee-keeping as I was growing up. You need people who can get you the right equipment, show you the ropes. You do really need to learn from somebody.
Your primary objective is to keep the bees happy. If you keep the queen happy, the workers are happy and will feed the queen and produce honey.
The thing about a hive is that it effectively works as a complete organism. Each bee has a role. Some fly out and get pollen, some clean out cells, some feed the queen. So the natural link up with what we do as financial planners is about trying to help people find the right job, the job that makes them happiest and that they’re most suited for.
Bees don’t live for long, apart from the queen who lives for three or four years – but you still talk to them. I think there is a mutual respect between beekeepers and their bees. We’re doing this because we want them to prosper. We want to be successful, to grow the colony.
If you’re dealing with a hive that is happy, the bees just carry on with their business when you open it up. If the queen isn’t happy, they’ll come out and fly at you in defence.
The queen never leaves the hive apart from to take one flight – the virgin flight – and at that point she is impregnated by several male, drone bees. She will then have thousands of fertilised eggs in her – to lay for the rest of her life.
Typically, an old queen will tail off in her egg production after three years and the bees will kill her off and convert another bee in a new cell into the new queen.
You can also buy in a queen from a known breeder and introduce her to the hive. It takes about 24 hours for them to adopt her, though it can go badly. It has been known for the hive to kill her. It’s all to do with pheromones. They have to accept the new smell.
The thing with beekeeping is – for one or two hours a week, you get to shut the rest of the world out because you have to focus on what you’re doing.
For more information, visit the British Beekeepers Association.
*photo by Advicefront