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Beekeeping at Walworth Garden Farm

We touched down at Gatwick yesterday to encounter the biggest queues leading up to passport control I've ever seen. Hordes of tetchy travellers jostled with each other, sweating profusely in corridors decidedly lacking air conditioning. UK airports are the worst thing about holidays for sure! I'm home now and going through a ton of amassed photos and queued posts that I wasn't able to share last week thanks to the patchy internet at my Bodrum hotel (though the rest of the experience was great, can't wait to write about it!) The first one I wanted to share was a long overdue post about the two-part beekeeping course I went on last month!

Walworth Garden Farm is a lovely place to explore if you're in the Kennington area. It's a tiny botanical garden meshed with a vegetable allotment, with greenhouses, a little classroom for school groups (and adult learners like ourselves!) and, of course, beehives. 

Over the course of two sessions we learned about the theory and biology behind the process of hive building and the hierarchy within the hive, as well as practical tips on how to start and maintain your own hives. 

Kevin, our wonderful teacher, also took us to the hives in full beekeeping gear (though he didn't wear any himself, not even gloves!) to look at the different combs and boxes. I was slightly terrified at this point, with clouds of bees buzzing around my head and knocking into my veil. I was particularly paranoid about the tiny gap of flesh exposed between my ankle and the beesuit, as apparently bees have a habit of crawling up your trousers. This part was fascinating though - especially seeing how placid the bees become when you pump smoke at them!

After the terror of being surrounded by tens of thousands of bees subsided, we went back to the classroom and assuaged any trauma with honey tasting.

I decided I preferred lighter honeys like clover and acacia over dark honey (such as chestnut), which tastes much richer and much more medicinal - almost like licorice! 

After the course we listened to a talk by Southwark guerrilla gardeners (of course) and wandered around the farm a bit more to take in the beautiful flowers and fruit growing in the gardens.

A bumblebee bum.

And the wondrous honeybee!

The course provided a fantastic introduction to keeping bees. I'm really inspired to keep my own in the future, and follow bee-friendly initiatives, like the ones I wrote about in my last post on saving the bees. Amazingly, the course was free! Walworth offer lots of other free courses and workshops throughout the year such as gardening, bumble bee walks and making cosmetics and candles from beeswax, so check out their website if it's the sort of thing you're interested in!

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