Hexham BKA currently comprises about 190 beekeepers and covers a large and dispersed geographical area in south and west Northumberland. Individual beekeepers can often feel isolated when it comes to seeking advice or needing a helping hand with their bees.
Following member consultation we established a network of local Bee Buddy groups, based on relative proximity, representing beekeepers who were either seeking more experience or prepared to offer advice and guidance to others or who were otherwise willing to ‘lend a hand’, as their own time and inclination permitted.
Seven local Bee Buddy groups are currently active in the following broad localities:
- West Tyne – South Tyne – Allen Valleys
- Hexham – Chollerford – Slaley
- Corbridge/Riding Mill
- Prudhoe and Stocksfield
- Ponteland and Stamfordham
- Shotley Bridge
Participation is entirely voluntary and it is for each group to establish for themselves the degree of mutual support required or offered to group members.
One Member’s Experience
Many new members will have attended a largely theoretical beekeeping course before gaining practical experience at our beginners sessions, held at the Wylam apiary.
As a former Biology teacher, I found the academic bit interesting and straightforward but I soon realised that I had a lot to learn about practical beekeeping. The excellent apiary sessions were invaluable and gave me the confidence I needed in order to go solo.
Even so, I did not relish the prospect of being cast adrift, to cope alone, once the beginners sessions ended. I was therefore keen to support the proposal that we set up a support scheme, to be known as Bee Buddies.
Since then, I have been able to call upon my bee buddies for help: moving hives, making and setting up stands, collecting and hiving swarms, extracting honey, are a few practical examples. Equally valuable though has been the availability of advice or a second opinion. As I have gained beekeeping experience I have been able to help others in my buddy group.
Although I’m no longer a beginner, I feel my Bee Buddy contacts are as valuable as ever, perhaps even more so. I also feel that there can be benefits for experienced beekeepers as well as for beginners and that we should make buddy groups open to all HBKA members.
I’m sure the bees would benefit.
Any member interested in becoming a Bee Buddy either by establishing a new group or by joining an existing group can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org