Beekeeping is buzzing. Taunton Beekeepers’ Club, based at Heatherton Park, opposite the World’s End pub, are finding a surge in interest in apiculture – particularly their comprehensive courses for beginners. This year’s course, which began in February and runs to September, has attracted keen newcomers to beekeeping.
With its new clubhouse – officially opened by Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne in July – offering a lecture room, workshop, honey extraction facilities, a kitchen and toilets, courses can now be held in comfortable facilities built to replace a dilapidated old hut that had proved increasingly unfit for purpose since the club made its home at Heatherton Park 59 years ago. Members raised money for the new building from beekeeping courses, sales of honey and fund-raising activities – then finished and fitted it out themselves.
The 200 members have 19 hives at Heatherton Park and courses are led by experienced and well-qualified beekeepers. Lin Uglow, Beginners’ Course Secretary, explained: “Taunton & District Division is one of several Divisions under the auspices of the Somerset Beekeepers’ Association which, in turn, is one of the many Associations under the umbrella of the British Beekeepers’ Association.
“We are one of only two Divisions in the Association to have its own apiary. Our annual Beginners’ Course is very comprehensive and runs parallel with the annual cycle of the honeybee. Our aim is to equip participants with sufficient knowledge and confidence by the end of the season for them to keep their own bees and become members of our Division.
Hives are normally closed up from October to March. Our course therefore begins with weekly (evening) theory sessions in mid-February covering the life cycle and biology of the honeybee, the various types of hive and their siting, pest and disease recognition, tools and clothing.
The practical sessions start in the apiary in the spring once the queens have started laying. These sessions then go on every fourth week right through to September when students are shown how to handle the bees, learn about swarm prevention and control, increasing colonies, pests and diseases, honey extraction, winter feeding etc. Bee suits and gloves are provided. Numbers are strictly limited to give participants the best possible tuition and to ensure their safety when handling the bees.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the club’s Beginners’ Course for 2015 should contact Lin Uglow at firstname.lastname@example.org
The outstanding winner of the Honey Show competition which included 44 classes and spanned the best honey, hive products and honey cookery, was Taunton Beekeepers’ Club member David Pearce who scooped a record six cups and trophies.