I keep coming across bees in unexpected places.
Amongst the sadness of recent events here in the UK, a happy reference to bees came up in the BBC’s new show ‘The Life Swap Adventure‘ – available for UK viewers to watch for the next 20 days.
George, a farmer from Malawi, swopped lives for a week with John, a fire officer from Essex (South-East England). George was hoping to find a way to make his farm more financially sustainable, to provide a future for his family. Meanwhile John was hoping to escape his workaholic routine and find the good life.
Luckily, on his visit to England George discovers a potential solution to his financial hardships – beekeeping! He goes on a road trip with John’s wife Cheryl to visit a Derbyshire bee farm, Troway Hall (46 minutes in, if anyone wants to fast forward through in iPlayer).
Upon seeing the bee farm owner, I wondered if the programme’s producers had wanted George to meet the most colourful beekeeper in England. Glorious Gloria Havenhand has a blonde perm and style that reminded me of Eastenders pub landlady Peggy Mitchell. Full of charm and bounce, she shows George her 70 beehives, instructing him: “Bees don’t like loud noises. A beekeeper who is noisy will never make a good beekeeper. Keep your voice down!”. After seeing the bees, George says “This has been one of the precious moments in my life”.
The voiceover informs us that there are an estimated 10,000 hives in Malawi, mostly owned by small scale farmers. 120 tonnes of honey is currently imported annually to Malawi to meet demand – so there is room for growth.
At the end of the show we hear that George is continuing to farm, to raise money for his new beekeeping enterprise. We can all help farmers like George by donating to the beekeeping charity Bees for Development, which supports beekeepers in developing countries. I hope George succeeds and together with his son Sam can build a business which is less of a daily struggle.