Monday, 30 September 2019

Bee School | A Sunday spent learning about local Bristol honey

A few weeks back, we spent a very special afternoon in the company of Bristol's newest beekeepers, our friends Sas and Ash. The kids are both big honey fans and desperate to see for themselves how hives work, so we headed up to the allotment for Bee School.
Late summer is such a funny time of year. I find myself eking out the last drops of light and warmth, while the blackberries ripen but the rest of the garden has gone wild - parched and overgrown. You can see why September is a new year of sorts, all the sweeping out and sorting that's required. But up on Ash's allotment, there were still delights to be had among the weary sunflowers. A greenhouse of cherry tomatoes eaten straight from the vine. Freshly dug beetroot. Armfuls of kale. 

And the hives. Two painted wooden hives, looking like something from an old landscape painting, stood separate from the raised beds. But first, a briefing. Ash is patient and softly spoken, giving important instructions to the boys around what to expect when the hive roof was removed. He supplied us all with veils and explained how the smoke quietens the bees to keep things as safe as possible. 

Then, we looked inside. 50,000 bees live in a hive, each with their role predetermined for them - drone, worker, queen. While looking at the frames filled with honeycomb, a rogue wasp entered the hive and we watched in awe as the bees went to work to get rid of the intruder.

Both boys managed to get bees inside their suits (massive eye roll) but were super calm and no one was stung. When we packed the hives away again, Sas gave us each a sticker - proof we'd graduated Bee School with honours. 

But the real prize? Jars of delicious local honey, eaten with hunks of fresh sourdough sitting on the grass in the local park. The honey is sweet and light, flavoured with the pollen from the flowers of the lime trees that grow in abundance nearby. I've always wondered whether eating local honey really does manage hay fever so this winter we'll conduct an experiment of the sweetest kind.

Big thanks to Ash and Sas for being spectacular humans, and as it's Sourdough September (yep, really a thing) I'll link to our sourdough recipe here too. 

Oh, and here are some pics I took of the day using an app called Gudak, which apes the disposable cameras from pre-digital times. You have to wait three days to get your snaps back! The kids couldn't believe it. I kinda like the effect, what do you think?

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