A short article with the title “My memories of beekeeping in Bedfordshire during the last 100 years”
|My first memory of beekeeping in Bedfordshire is of a rather dreary late afternoon in early Autumn all but fifty years ago. I had persuaded a beekeeper in Luton to let me watch him open up a hive. Love at first sight – I had rarely seen anything so wondrous, and my path in life was clearer.
The beekeeper, Bill Davies, became my mentor and friend. As Bill’s hive inspections were delightful but irregular, I learned a lot about trying to capture swarms scattered around his garden and the seemingly tolerant neighbourhood,
Some beekeepers remain in my memory as larger-than-life, expert practitioners.
One demonstrated hive inspection at an open day – with only short sleeves, no gloves and a veil hanging loose at the neck. “You’re getting really peppered this afternoon, aren’t you, Eric?” commented an onlooker. But Eric just carried on unperturbed. He regarded local honey as a miracle cure for his son’s asthma.
I believe that the average hive of Bedfordshire bees was feistier then than now. Yet seeing Bernard Kent, the County Beekeeping Advisor, at work was like watching a concert pianist play, so smoothly did the frames flow out of the hive and back in again, with the bees so at peace yet keenly analysed.
Bernard sold me my first hive back in 1973. “Remember not to undercharge for the honey,” he cautioned. “£1 per pound weight is a good price”. I was earning around £1200 p.a. as a newish teacher. If honey prices had matched wage inflation since then, we would now be charging £20+ per jar.