James Dearsley began beekeeping in 2009. Since then he has started the world’s most popular Facebook page for beekeeping (the Beginner Beekeepers page), released a ‘Beekeeping for Beginners’ video with Charlie Dimmock (famous here for her presenting slot on the TV gardening show Ground Force, making her beloved amongst British men for her striking strawberry blonde curls and habit of going braless) and now has published his first book, From A to Bee. Could you let the rest of us know your secret please James?!
James offers us an entertainingly jolly, extremely readable account of all the trials and tribulations of becoming an English beekeeper. Not only is he combining this with a hefty workload as an international travel agent and being dad to a young toddler, he has to face the worried looks of his wife and friends as he turns into a complete bee geek. The book is written in diary format and follows his challenging journey during 2009 from complete bee novicery to getting his first pot of honey.
My favourite aspect of the book is that James is fearless in poking fun at himself. At a gangly 6″5, he creates a picture of himself as a clumsy Mr Bean style character, at one point falling down a flight of steps as he leaves his beekeeping classes. On another occasion he attempts to communicate with Polish beekeepers that he is a fellow beekeeper too by running around making buzzing noises and pointing at their honey – “As I walked away, I did turn back for one last look at these moustached Polish beekeepers and they were just looking at each other with a rather strange expression; one then shrugged whilst the other started laughing.”
It is quite touching how completely absorbed he becomes in the bees, obsessively reading the nights away (a glass of red wine or whiskey at his side) and driving around trying to find out the local forage in his area. He also develops from being most interested in getting his first pot of honey to being deeply concerned with all the threats his bees and those across the world face. I think all of us beekeepers understand that feeling of wonderment at how much there is to learn, and how amazing these fascinating little creatures are.
I especially liked how he included my blog in his list of recommended beekeeping blogs at the back. The first time my name has appeared in a book – thank you so much James! He also lists bee-themed twitterers. Keeping the bee blogging community happy is a shrewd move.
By the way, if you choose to buy this book or indeed any other items from Amazon, please consider going through the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Fundraising page. Each time you access Amazon.co.uk via their link and make a purchase this brilliant charity receives a donation worth 8% of your total purchase, at no extra cost to you.