An Introduction to Bee Keeping with Brian Pool

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I’ve long been interested in beekeeping and although we don’t have enough land to have hives of our own I’d still been wanting to find out more so when we got the opportunity as part of our MSc Gastronomy course, I was on it like a buzzy bonnet.

Brian Pool is a commercial beekeeper and as it turns out he lives just a few miles from me in the Scottish Borders. As well as having hives across many sites including Edinburgh Zoo, on Edinburgh city-centre rooftops, at The Secret Herb Garden, Stobo, Biggar, on The Pentland hills and East Lothian, he also runs bee keeping classes. We visited him at Colstoun Cookery School just outside Haddington in East Lothian for an Introduction to bee keeping.

Photo'bummed' by a bee!
Photo’bummed’ by a bee!

Brian has been keeping bees since he was 5 years old and is a 3rd generation beekeeper and he clearly knows his stuff, the day was incredibly interesting as we were taken through the activity and life cycle of honey bees – wow, is all I can say! Some of it was pretty mind blowing:

  • A Queen lays 1500-2000 eggs a day & lives up to 5 years
  • A female worker bee lives 6 weeks & produces just 1 teaspoon of honey in that time.

We covered all aspects from the components of a beehive and different types of hives, different types of bees, best plants for foraging bees throughout the year, swarm control and colony management, disease and pests management.

Colstoun Cookery School whip up a great lunch
Colstoun Cookery School whip up a great lunch

We also got to get suited and booted to visit the bee hives where Brian prepared the hives for the Winter season and removed the honey crop so that we could take it back and try the honeycomb. There was something incredibly dreamy about the sound of the bees in the Autumn sunshine, it made me feel quite drowsy.

This was a really special day, made even more so by the spectacular al fresco lunch that Fiona at Colstoun Cookery School put on for us. I so wish we could have bees too, we really need a bigger garden…

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