Becoming a Beekeeper
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a Beekeeper...
I first came to the PSS Dutch Barn in the summer of 2019 with a neighbour. I had been feeling very depressed & having suicidal thoughts after a relationship ended whilst I was also struggling with the death of my beloved mother Catherine. Having had to leave my career as a Chef and Kitchen Manager in Liverpool City Centre because of my mental health, once I heard about the Bees there and a Beekeeping course, I knew I had found the right place.
The beekeeping saved me that summer and gave me a new passion that I had not felt in years. The feeling it gave, the sounds, textures and sheer numbers of bees was simply beyond words and the thrill I’d been looking for.
After the brilliant course I stayed on as a service user, and from September to the New Year got involved in numerous creative activities; horticulture with Jayne Snape from St. Helens College, Mosaics with Gail and joining the Sing Sing Sing Choir with Mersey Wylie were highlights for me. But the Bees were always on my mind and being involved with the Bee Inspired project was exciting - with a view to start thinking about new Bee Hives in April/May 2020. Then, well you know what happened. The pandemic changed everything. But not my love for the bees.
So to April 2021, after funding was secured for this year’s Bee Inspired project in 2020 from Public Health Liverpool for the prevention of suicide in men over 50. I happen to be 45, but was very keen to be part of the group. So I became a volunteer along with numerous others in an effort to transform the Barn and surrounding areas after a year of being unable to help with the upkeep. So it was all go from then on to start buying the equipment needed for two hives and Bee Inspired was born.
Cliff Porter who led the previous Bee Keeping course in 2019 was brought in again as his knowledge and expertise is excellent and a great fella to boot. By April most of the equipment needed to start had arrived at the Barn. The men were split into two groups on a Friday morning and afternoon for two hours.
The new bees arrival took some time due to weather and other issues. But they were on their way. We introduced ourselves that first day and Cliff began to teach us about the lives of the bees. Having done the course before it was excellent to have a top up and learn even more and it was so good to be around people again and have a break from everything.
After a theory week on anatomy, types of bees and learning about the smoker and how to light it. We got the flat packed hives out on a sunny Friday morning. With some tables outside and each person socially distanced of course, we started to put together a brood box, supers, roofs and frames. The group in the afternoon did the same.
It was a brilliant day to be outside with new friends made after lockdown. And working with wood and screws with the occasional whack of a hammer, two hives came together waiting for the Bees arrival.
Cliff had arranged for a nucleus of bees to arrive in May. So our next task was to put an apiary together. With some huge posts and netting over 6ft for the bees to fly up and out over. Both groups came together for the first time.
After some hesitancy, the posts were well and truly hit into the ground using a metal spike for the post to sit in once flush to the ground. The sound of them going in and the guys all smiling was great to be around. Light work was made after that as the ground was already cleared and mown, then the netting was up and fixed into place.
That day someone from the city council came to film the group and the work taking place. Myself and Annie Kilroy spoke to camera about the project and this was used on social media to promote wellbeing. I’m always proud to do this and to help promote the service; talking about bees - I’m always happy to do that! And I’m comfortable in front of a camera too.
The Bees arrived at the Barn in a nucleus box with frames inside on Friday 21st May. It was raining, there were umbrellas I’m told. But they had arrived finally! It had been a long wait for them but well worth it. But I wasn’t there, due to my depression and self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. That kept me away from my new passion for bees. But they were here, that was the main thing and so am I.
The next week and couldn’t wait to get there and see them! Get my Bee suit on and get right next to them. To get that feeling again. That buzz - no puns here! Opening the hive and seeing, literally, thousands of bees. And the Queen! Marked in green. She is wonderful. What a sight.
It's a privilege to me, it gets my heart pumping. And that’s no mean feat! And it's my new love. Like the first time on the Nemesis at Alton Towers. It’s thrilling and I would recommend beekeeping to all.
Save the Bees.