Although Fred is a bee-keeper he hates honey – but he is fascinated by bees.
He has built a business on the back of his enthusiasm and sells a wide range of bee and honey-derived products including, would you believe, a sloe gin.
His explanation of the life cycle of the honey bee had most of us enthralled and the instinct that enables a vast colony of bees to function successfully is quite mind-blowing. We were, however, slightly discomforted by the fate of the drones, whose lifestyle seemed idyllic until the final coup de grace!
For those of us who may have seen a few hives in an orchard, or indeed, at the bottom of the garden, the idea of having 600 to 700 hives is almost impossible to absorb but that is the number Fred has. He and his small team look after them in an almost continuous cycle for much of the year.
Fred explained how swarms are the natural way for a hive to replicate itself and showed photographs of swarms both ‘in the wild’ and on people who, for one reason or another, had volunteered to cover themselves with bees!
We were assured that bees in a swarm recently from a hive couldn’t actually sting because they were stuffed full of honey. There comes a point, however, when they aren’t full of honey . . .
Inevitability, the subject of bee stings came up and we were told of the correct way to remove a sting (by pulling it out cleanly and not squeezing it) and that rubbing the wound would actually make the pain worse!
Fred’s approach was a very pragmatic ‘it’s a case of mind over matter’ but there were many in the audience who appeared not to be convinced by this!
At the end of the talk, Fred invited us to visit his stand where there was a selection of products on offer and it was a measure of members’ interest that they gathered around the stall like bees around a honey pot!