2 years ago retirement brought wife Jacqui and me to Leintwardine in the Marches (Herefordshire/Shropshire border). It is a rural community where we are surrounded by agricultural land and life is directly connected to nature and the seasons.
Jacqui had given me "The Beekeepers Pupil" by Sara George, a work of historical fiction that rekindled my vague but long-held interest in honeybees and beekeeping.
Early 2008 was spent reading and researching theory and practicalities. In September we visited the Ludlow Food Festival and the stall run by Ludlow & District Beekeepers Association (LDBKA) where we signed application forms for an introductory course. In the spring of 2009 we attended a full day theory course and a half day practical where we were able to handle bees at an apiary using borrowed suits. That experience confirmed that we were comfortable both with handling bees and the responsibilities involved. We also knew that we had the backup necessary to make the investment in equipment and bees a reasonable risk so we duly placed our orders. Our hope and intention was, and is, to keep bees as a hobby that will eventually pay for itself.
The story of our our first summer is for another occasion, suffice it to say that we find ourselves starting 2010 with a snow covered hive full of healthy bees waiting for the warmer temperatures of the new season.