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Learning in a Teaching Apiary

Wow! I feel so privileged to be a member of the Launceston Beekeeping Group! As a complete novice to beekeeping the welcome I received and the support I continue to enjoy has been, quite simply, priceless.

My beekeeping journey was halted almost before it began due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 really was the worst year to start a new hobby. Fortunately, in August 2021 the Launceston Beekeeping Group started a six week Beekeeping for Beginners Course. I had to attend via Zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings. Not ideal, but we all learnt a lot. It was both fascinating and terrifying at the same time and I was hooked. Who could have imagined there would be so much to taking care of these amazing little creatures? By the end of the course I was more knowledgeable about bees and their habits, but uncertain that I would have the confidence to actually embark on this mind-blowing hobby.

Like a band of superheroes, the Launceston Beekeeping Group came to my rescue. They organised their first Teaching Apiary and invited me along with two other couples, making us the Magnificent Five. What an incredible experience it has been! My heartfelt thanks goes to Sue Hoult and her husband Mark for organising three hives and bee colonies in a suitable environment and for attending with us weekly to inspect our insects. Without this support, I would not have been able to take on the challenge of managing my own hive.

The two couples and I were allocated a hive. Each hive was at a different stage of development – which I am sure is no surprise to more experienced beekeepers but it was to me! With the support of the very knowledgeable Sue and Mark we all received some hands-on beekeeping experience, getting to see and discuss the goings on in all three hives.

Over the course of this Spring and Summer, the five of us have performed Bailey frame changes, encountered Deformed Wing Disease, panicked about lost Queens (unnecessarily, it turned out!), thwarted any ideas the bees had of swarming, made friends (both bee and human) and created a support group which I hope will last our beekeeping life and beyond.

As I write this, I am getting more excited at the prospect of bring my bees home for the winter, now confident that I will be able to manage my bees myself come next Spring… with a little help from my friends.

Barbara Hassall

June 2022

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