Nestled in cities and places across the country are passionate bee educators that represent the interests of beekeepers and beekeeping. These volunteers help run local beekeepers’ associations.
My local beekeeping association has been one of the main sources of information and practical tips that I have turned too when seeking guidance and advice on my beekeeping journey.
My journey to getting bees has been long. I have been planning for nearly 2 years to get bees. Living in London, I feel the full weight of responsibility that comes with keeping bees, as well as a duty towards others beekeepers in London.
Once cannot whimsically decide to get bees (although people do). As beekeeping has gained popularity, so has the trend for impulse hobbyists. In the same way one would advise against purchasing a dog without commitment, the acquisition of tens of thousands of bees, should warrant the same, if not greater consideration.
Urban Beekeeping Responsibilities
Beekeeping in London or any city with a dense population can present challenges. You need to have a level of competence to manage your colonies, recognise disease, minimise swarming and avoid your bees being a nuisance to the public.
The first place I turned to when I started my beekeeping journey was my local beekeepers’ association. The London Beekeepers’ Association (LBKA) is a volunteer-run members’ organisation (and registered charity).
Beekeepers and Urban Beekeeping
The LBKA represents the interests of beekeepers and urban beekeeping in the central London area. They have a mixed range of beekeepers as members as well as people like me who have yet to keep bees. However, what under pins the association is an experienced set of beekeepers, who are generous in their knowledge and keen to help other beekeepers.
LBKA Beekeeping Courses
Every year the LBKA run two weekends of beekeeping courses (this years’ course are available for booking here). I joined one of the LBKA courses in April 2016, which was inspiring, educational and full of practical tips. Reading textbooks is helpful background, however nothing beats hefting around beekeeping equipment, inspecting a hive and feeling the hum of bees when they are flying around you. After the course, I also received a season of mentoring by the LBKA (which they offer) at their teaching apiary (an incredible commitment on the part of the LBKA members).
Since the course, I have remained an LBKA member. I have followed and engaged with the LBKA through their Facebook group, seen discussions play out in their WhatsApp group and this year I plan to attend more of the monthly meetings to meet more beekeepers in person. It has been reassuring to see, that even the best beekeepers face completely unknown situations. When an LBKA member is stuck on a bee related issue advice is quick (and sometimes divided) however there is always back up on what to do next. It is a real community.
It is important we support our local beekeepers associations and if you live in London and already keep bees, intend to do so, or are simply interested in beekeeping, the LBKA is for you. Join here.