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Remember your first season?

Up on the roof. BCOT beekeepers Lauren, Tim and Vanessa with Pete of the local beekeeping association (left)

Up on the roof. BCOT beekeepers Lauren, Tim and Vanessa with mentor Pete of Basingstoke Beekeepers (left).

On a rooftop less a few hundred metres from Vita’s HQ, Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) has installed two hives. We have been watching their progress with great interest. The BCoT beekeepers were very well prepared for their first season having taken a course with their local beekeeping organisation, Basingstoke Beekeepers.

So, what did they think of their first season? Lauren McCann tells us …

How many colonies did you start and finish with?
Two and two – although we lost one swarm.

Where is your apiary?
On the college roof – in a sheltered west-facing position. A special mesh has been erected around the hives to make sure that any roof repairers don’t have an unwanted surprise!

BCOT's first year efforts showing great presentation skills.

BCOT’s first year efforts showing great presentation skills.

What was your favourite moment of your beekeeping year?
Discovering that we would have a harvest this year – in our very first season! Tasting the honey too – delicious!

What was the biggest surprise of your beekeeping year?
How placid the bees have been and that we’d harvest some honey. We were very excited to discover this!

What did you think of your first sting?
It was unexpected and it hurt more than I would have expected! I’ve only been stung once though, so I can’t complain too much!

What was the most challenging task you undertook?
Judging how much to burn in the smoker to keep it alight during inspections. And lifting the super off when the frames were full – they were quite heavy!

What was your proudest beekeeping  moment?
Seeing our first labelled jar of honey. Magic! We also made beeswax with lavender polish and students used some honey to make honey cake to sell alongside the products.

Basingstoke's finest?

Basingstoke’s finest?

What do you aim to do better next year?
Get quicker at inspections to minimise the stress caused to the bees. And to improve swarm control: one colony swarmed despite our vigilance and anti-swarming actions. Students will be involved next year too.

What most impressed you about your bees?
Just how docile and focused they’ve been in their community on the task in hand. People could learn a thing or two from our little buzzing friends!

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