BBKA News: Is Beekeeping The Perfect Hobby?

BBKA News: Is Beekeeping The Perfect Hobby?

This article was first published in the newsletter of The British Beekeepers’ Association (No. 222 – February 2015).

In my twenties I thought a hobby involved spending money I didn’t have, embarrassing myself and waking up with a hangover.  I called it ‘socialising’. As I entered my forties it was obvious I needed a different sort of hobby; one that didn’t raise an eyebrow from the doctor or leave me eating leftover curry for breakfast.

I don’t know where the beekeeping idea first came from but I was immediately attracted to it and three years on, it’s safe to say it ticks all the boxes.

As I watch my middle aged mates squeeze into their lycra outfits to go running, spend far too much money supporting their football team or get injured playing golf (yes it’s true!), I bask in knowing I’ve found the perfect hobby. Obviously I don’t tell them, but seeing as you already know, here’s a reminder why Beekeeping Is The Perfect Hobby.

People think we’re brave

For many, beekeeping is the stuff of nightmares.  They can’t believe we seek out something that’s essentially a weekly Bush Tucker Trial. They think of us as brave masters of our hives; the Bear-Gryls of the allotments.

The truth is obviously somewhat different.

For me, well, let’s just say beekeeping challenges my fears and is more akin to a white water rafting experience.  With the roar of 50,000 bees at close proximity, insects inspecting me and trying to find a good spot for a hot stinger, my heartbeat doubles and I sometimes come home a quivering wreck (I have a particularly aggressive hive at present that I will requeen in the spring).

But while it’s obvious to me and my wife that I’m far from brave, there’s no way I’m telling my motor-biking mate Mark that I’ve spent good money on two layers of impenetrable material to protect me from my hobby.

Me and an aspiring beekeeper
Me and an aspiring beekeeper

We make something wonderful

We produce one of the most delicious, indulgent products in the world. No wonder some varieties are sold for up to £70/lb. On toast, on porridge, dribbled or guzzled. Honey is the Ferrari of foods.

And of course a by-product of this is that we can actually sell our honey. Admittedly this may be some way down the line once you consider the cost of hives, protective gear and numerous accessories – but eventually, we can be in profit – unlike my friends who spend several hundred pounds a year on a Man U season ticket.

Environmental smugness

I’ve always been a bit of a recycling hard nut and enjoy doing my bit for this planet of ours. To find a hobby which makes me happy and makes the world a better place is a result!

When I find myself go-karting on yet another stag-do, I console myself with the fact I’m a beekeeper.

We get to be our own boss

In my dreams, I’d like to run my own multi-million global conglomerate. So far I remain a small employee in a very big company but at my apiary, I am boss, officially in charge of thousands of little workers.

And I don’t mean that flippantly. Here my decisions actually matter. If I don’t feed the bees at the right time, they could die and that’s genuinely upsetting. If I protect the hives from varroa, then I’m more likely to have a high yield and I’m very pleased about that.  The bees need the beekeeper.

So far, I’ve been a caring boss (if somewhat incompetent) but at least I know I won’t embarrass myself at the Christmas party.

People are interested in beekeeping

Someone once said, “hobbies of any kind are boring except to people who have the same hobby” and I can relate to that. I tune out when my friend Russell talks footie scores or my wife updates me on Jennifer Anniston’s engagement (she considers reading Grazia a hobby).

Beekeeping, however, is a hobby that people do want to talk about. Even the blokes down the pub want to get involved in a chat.  Everyone has so many questions (some of which I can actually answer). ‘How many bees are in a hive?’ (50,000), ‘How many types of bee are there?’ (lots), ‘Do you get scared?’ (I give an ambiguous response).

We get a cool outfit

There’re a few hobbies that demand a certain look from their followers. Golf for example. Now I quite like the idea of wearing loud, checked trousers (I also like the idea of a bone through my nose) but my wife insists I couldn’t pull it off.

The beekeeping suit, however, makes us look like we mean business. It makes us look like we’re entering some futuristic alien convention. And it’s surprisingly forgiving … not like those skin-tight shorts some of my friends wear to ride their bikes.

It’s better than a week in the Maldives

Yes I’m sure the Maldives are rather nice, but nothing beats being elbow deep in bees to make you forget your week at work or the list of ‘to dos’ waiting for you at home. It is the ultimate distraction, and it’s often found in a lovely countryside location (or at least a bushy bit of the city). It’s also a lot more convenient and cheaper than the Maldives, though I must admit, you’re less likely to get a tan or a cocktail when you’re beekeeping.

Other beekeepers are rather nice

We don’t have to interact too much but when I’ve needed guidance, other beekeepers have been very helpful with their varied advice. I’ve found the community to be passionate, opinionated but generally lovely. There’re also a few mad characters out there and some very impressive beards, both of which I appreciate.

I write short posts about my latest beekeeping exploits on my blog,, and I’d love to hear more about why you think Beekeeping Is The Perfect Hobby.

Read More

Author: Roger

regaining my sanity through beekeeping

8 thoughts on “BBKA News: Is Beekeeping The Perfect Hobby?”

    1. I did mean £70/lb. Sidr honey, from the Sidr tree in Yemen, is the most sought after honey in the world, often sold to Saudi princes. The honey looks like dark chocolate syrup. I haven’t tried any … yet.

  1. I really enjoyed your article in the BBKA News. One of my favourite things about this wonderful hobby is my own shed full of beekeeping paraphernalia. It is like my own little scientific domain. My husband is allowed very limited space in one corner but never allowed to encroach further. This hobby of ours is fascinating and the last four years have been extraordinary.

  2. Ah …… a full size bee suit. I’m going to pick one of those up at the spring conference after I discovered my bees are able to sneak into my smock.

    BTW I very much enjoyed your article.

  3. That was a good “read”, Roger . . . . and a great picture. Where’s her armoured bee suit or is she too brave for her own good ?

  4. …Actually Roger, in my humble opinion, your article was the highlight of the latest BBKA news. Over Saturday morning breakfast I always enjoy reading extracts from the news or an online article to my wife (she’s a very tolerant, non beekeeping lady). Your article was read in full and there was much merriment from us both as it struck a chord or three.
    Further reasons why beekeeping is the perfect hobby: You touched on honey, but all over the world honey is universally loved. Even today when sugar is a dirty word, honey still rules, even in big business – no more Sugar Puffs but now Honey Puffs.
    Have you also thought that there is no regular pattern to our hobby, day or night. So when you need space, “I’m going to the bees love”, morning, noon or night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.