A second blog post on Monday night’s third ever London Honey Show, run by the London Lancaster hotel.
The headline speaker was Dale Gibson, on ‘A year in the life of the Bermondsey Street Bees. Mostly.’ He positively bounced onto the stage, full of energy, humour and a flamboyant way with words. He has been beekeeping for six years.
Rather than giving us a straight account of a year’s beekeeping activities, he told us he wanted to look at beekeeping through the ages at Bermondsey.
In 1082, Bermondsey Abbey was founded. For the monks there, Dale imagined that the bees would have been a source of seeming miracles – for instance clean-burning beeswax candles brought a God-like light to the darkness of Southwark Cathedral. Wax kept parchment documents sealed and secret, and its reliable burning even made candles a time keeping device.
As well as all the benefits of wax, bees also provided sweet honey… but they had one final blessing to confer… alcohol! However Dale feels mead must have been used as chastisement, taken as a penance for unmentionable sins! He much prefers honey beer, such as the new London beer brand Hiver, which he has supplied honey to. There were some free samples of Hiver at the show, and it did taste very good.
So, from 1082-2013, what’s changed for the bees of Bermondsey Street? Dale summed up the bad:
- Intensive agriculture
And the good:
- Bee space discovered – we now have hives with removable frames
- Improved lip balm!
He gave us a quick whip through his beekeeping year. He feeds a anti-nosema thymol emulsion in 2:1 sugar syrup during autumn, which I found interesting. Apparently a emulsion recipe can be found on beekeepingforum.co.uk. Anyone have any opinions or experience in doing this?
Finally Dale showed us a fun video he’d made of him receiving a queen bee and her attendants through the post. His dining table was set up very nicely to receive her.
Will do a third blog and final post on the show soon I think, with more of the photos I took. My cold is a little better today, thank you everyone for your anti-cold tips!
To finish this post off, here is a great photo Dale showed us of one of his diligent beekeeping assistants. I managed to find it on the Londonist website.