WHAT DOES HARRY LOVE?
Harry loves bees!
I spent many years as a dentist. I loved it but I promised myself I would retire whilst I still had time to enjoy other things. As the day came closer I did wonder what life after retirement would be like. Would I find anything as interesting and challenging as dentistry? Then I found bees and beekeeping! Now I have ten apiaries around Cheltenham, Winchcombe, Birdlip and Cirencester.
Everything about honeybees is amazing - their social behaviour, the workings of a super-organism, the way the colony has one queen and thousands of workers; all with their jobs to do. In a good year they make lots of honey. I make sure they have plenty to get safely through the winter and I can harvest the rest. Just watching the bee's beautiful golden honey flow into jars is a wonderful experience.
Now, as well as making honey, I get real pleasure from helping newer beekeepers. I'm active in the local beekeepers' association. The association offers some great training and I'm a tutor at our hands-on sessions throughout the summer. My other passion is selecting honeybee queens and creating starter colonies (called a nucleus of bees). I sell these to other beekeepers - both old hands and those just beginning. I'm always pleased if I can deliver the nucleus to it's new owner. It's fun to meet other beekeepers. I'm happy to help install a colony in its new home and, because I remember all the questions I had when I was starting out, I'm on the other end of the phone if there are any questions later.
Beekeeping is more than just honey and honeybees though. It's a window into an incredible natural world. Using a microscope, I can see what pollen the honey contains - telling me the flowers and trees the bees have visited. Knowing what the bees like I plant our garden with the honeybees in mind. I plant for bumblebees, hoverflies and butterflies too. More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of these insects and beekeeping was my introduction to the issues that threaten our pollinating insects.
My beekeeping year is busy. From March to October you'll see me in my van - visiting each apiary to make sure the bees are OK. The rest of the year is taken up with work behind the scenes. Beehive repairs, frame making, honey bottling, and planning for next year's season.
Beekeeping is a centuries old craft, with science adding its knowledge to years and years of experience. It's an opportunity to see inside the bee's fascinating world and to share in their glorious honey which, because of how gently we treat it, tastes so different to supermarket fare. I really love it. I think you will too.
Harry Hazlem - Beekeeper