The relationship between humanity and the honeybee is ancient; we’ve all heard about the jars found in the tombs of Pharaohs and our Medieval obsession with mead.
We marvel at the domestication of the dog and its close ties to mankind, yet somehow the honeybee, neither domesticated nor truly wild has remained humbly obscure. That is, until you start to work with them.
I recently visited Kirsty Williams’ apiary in the Ceiriog Valley. Kirsty runs The British Bee Company, and many of our customers be well familiar with her products, from Raw Wildflower Honey to beautifully made beeswax food wraps.
We have always prided ourselves on our range of locally produced honey; most years we can have as many as 7 different producers on our shelves, all of them from the Oswestry area.
What hit home the hardest from my experience with Kirsty was the need to protect this vital tradition, to support the people who have dedicated their lives to these insects, and to protect invertebrates of all kinds from the rampant destruction brought about by human hands.
Sadly, dark clouds are looming over this ancient tradition, the trend in recent years has been smaller and smaller crop yields, colony collapse and an increased price to the consumer.
The causes are many; climate change, loss of wild flora, and varroa compounded by mass use of petrochemical fertilisers and poisons play the biggest role. But we can change this – planting pollinator friendly gardens, putting pressure on local government to end its war on biodiversity, waged with profligate use of pesticides combined with habitat destruction, and by eating food grown to organic standards.
What hit home the hardest from my experience with Kirsty was the need to protect this vital traditionLaurie visiting the Apiary
The knowledge, care and dedication displayed by all our beekeepers is enchanting, their collective experience spanning over half a century and down the generations. It is also very good fun! If you are ever given the opportunity to don the white suit and walk into the swarm, I would strongly recommend it. Who knows, next year you may even see my name on the back of a jar!