I found Hen Corner online, after searching for 'Bee keeping courses in London' and instantly warmed to Sara Ward, from her friendly you tube videos.
Her email correspondence was equally as warm and I was really looking forward to her course. It was a beautiful day and Sara welcomed me into her lovely home and into the garden. There were just three of us on the course, which was brilliant and we started with a chat about what we were about to find out, along with a cold drink and one of Sara's homemade honey and oat cookies.
Sara gave us a fascinating overview of her background and her decisions to keep chickens.
Then she moved onto bees. We were the first three to be fortunate enough to get this insight into Sara's Bee world, but you'd never know as he explanations of everything were clear and concise as you'll hear in our chat at the end of this blog.
We then had a chance to observe the bees close up in a wonderfully restored observation unit, that Sara and her husband had fixed up just the week before. We spotted the Queen and learnt more about the worker bees.
Then it was time to set up the 'smoker' to use to calm the bees as we inspected the hive.
I was at this point that my slight panic set in, as there were bees buzzing up close, and despite my fascination of bees and loving honey and wanting to learn more about bees... I do freeze up... Still I overcame the fear I think as it was amazing, looking in Sara's beehaus, holding the frames, using the smoker and learning more.
We then all sat and had a honey tasting session which was brilliant, including getting to taste Sara's award winning honey - the interactive nature of what were doing made the course all the more memorable and fascinating. Then a cuppa and another of the homemade cookies as we chatted through the in's and outs of us all getting more involved, before we were given a Hen Corner goody bag, with eggs (which my hubby and enjoyed hard boiled on Bank Holiday Monday!) more cookies, some homemade apple and chilli jelly, home grown bay leaves ! Yum!
I'm now trying waiting to hear back from www.earthworksstablans.co.uk who have bee hives, to see if they could use another pair of hands to look after their bees. You can also find out more at www.hertsbees.org.uk. Unfortunately the St Albans Bee Keeping association says it won't have any courses until 2015 and i'm yet to hear back from them as to whether they'll let me help out at any of their apiaries. It's really not advisable to just turn up despite bee keepers having a reputation of being friendly. So a starting point can be www.hencorner.com and then the wonderful world of honey can be your oyster!
Have a listen here to my chat with Hen Corner founder, Sara Ward