Bad Beekeepers Club: How I Stumbled Into the Curious World of Bees - And Became (Perhaps) a Better Person
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Hello. My name is Bill and I'm a bad beekeeper. A really bad beekeeper.' So begins Bill Turnbull's charming and often hilarious account of how he stumbled into the world of beekeeping (sometimes literally). Despite many setbacks - including being stung (twice) on his first day of training - beekeeping somehow taught Bill a great deal about himself, and the world around him. The Bad Beekeeper's Club also highlights the very real threats to Britain's bee population. One in every three tablespoons of food derives directly from the pollinating process of the humble bumble bee. But hives are collapsing at an accelerating rate with significant environmental consequences. Fascinating and extremely funny, The Bad Beekeeper's Club is a universally appealing story about a very singular passion.
beekeepers are skilled enough to make their own solar wax melters. As I’m totally cack-handed at anything carpenterial, I had to seek help from a kindly old gentleman in our village who made bird boxes in his spare time. I may have given him slightly generous measurements, for the result was the mother of all wax melters. It did everything it was supposed to do, but it weighed a ton; there were complaints from certain sections of the Turnbull community that it spoiled the view of the garden. So
But they’d waited until Phil turned up with his van. When later I related this conundrum to Michael Young, my beekeeping friend from Northern Ireland, his answer was simple. ‘Didn’t you know?’ he said. ‘Bees hate the smell of fish.’ Sometimes you do need a thick skin to carry on when you’ve been stung for the umpteenth time. But in my experience, the longer you keep bees the less likely they are to sting you, as you learn over the years how to avoid upsetting them. As the Buddhist saying goes:
then the world of apiculture is definitely the place for you. The British Beekeepers’ Association has a programme of qualifications to keep you up to your eyeballs in textbooks for years: starting with the Basic Assessment, moving on to the General Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry, the Microscopy Certificate, Intermediate Theory, and finally the Advanced Certificate. In between these various levels are a whole raft of modules to choose from, including honeybee management; products and forage;
actually hurt. As the next assignment was only ever a phone call away, I couldn’t commit to the responsibility of looking after any livestock, let alone swarms of bees. The idea didn’t so much get pushed onto the back burner as shoved almost right off it when we went to live in Washington for four years. Amid all the bullets, bombs and ballot boxes, I never once saw a bee, or even thought about them much, if at all. It was thanks to a chicken called Tabasco that I eventually got involved. We’d
from a hive close to where he lives, or possibly in his own colony if the old queen has swarmed. Then he has to get to her before all the other likely lads. The odds of a happy but fatal outcome must be hundreds to one, if not higher. So, most drones spend their lives whiling away the summer days eating honey, taking up space inside the hive, and probably giving the hard-working females a bit of backchat into the bargain. Until late August that is, when the worm turns in a dramatic fashion. The