Tried & Tested: The basic guide to keeping bees

So it’s no wonder that gardeners are particularly interested by ensuring that bees are kept happy, by planting enticing pollen-heavy flowers and plants.

Many have gone one step further, however, and feature started keeping bee colonies to encourage them much more.

Among them is TV Gardener Charlie Dimmock, who’s introduced to beekeeping by the Surrey Beekeeper James Dearsley in a DVD from The perfect Life Collection called The basic Guide To Keeping Bees.

James’s down-to-earth explanations about how bee colonies work makes this £14.99 DVD a valid investment for anybody toying with the premise of maintaining to 50,000 bees on the bottom in their garden.

Sitting Charlie down with a mug of tea James tells her how important it’s miles to grasp how the hive all works together as a unit.

The queen bee is just an egg-laying machine; the few drone bees are only there to mate along with her and the employee bees are “the brains of the colony”.

Among the employee bees are guards who keep out predators that attempt to steal the hive’s honey; house bees who feed the young and clean every cell once a bee has emerged, ready for the queen to put another egg, after which there are the foragers who’re the bees that we see collecting nectar.

It is fascinating stuff, particularly the lifecycle: worker bees work themselves to death within about six weeks in the summertime, but they are able to also stage a hive revolution and dethrone the queen in the event that they get uninterested together with her.

Bees take about three days to hatch from their eggs into grubs for four or five days before they emerge fully formed, but when the employee bees commit to feed the grub on royal honey they convey a brand new queen – after which there’s a right royal ding dong within the shape of a swarm.

“It’s imperative to grasp the lifecyle,” James tells Charlie. “All the bees emerge from their cells at different times and also you want to know the lifecycle to work with them once they wish to swarm.”

A queen bee takes 16 days to emerge – and their cells will be identified because they’re capped. A worker takes 21 days to emerge and drones take 24 days.

“You know when the bees are going to swarm since you will see a queen cell that protrudes from the cell and also you see the royal jelly but they cap the cell at day eight – that’s when the old queen leaves and takes half the colony and a few honey along with her to form a brand new colony elsewhere,” explains James.

I didn’t realise beekeeping was such a lot fun, but it surely needs diligence and care too and this DVD takes you thru everything you ought to know to evaluate whether you’re right for beekeeping.

James shows Charlie the equipment and clothing you will have, explains the best way to get a colony and the way to tend it properly.

Most importantly, the DVD tells you the way to gather your honey. i used to be hooked.

The only problem is the base of our garden is already in use and that i don’t think the kids are able to give it up their trampoline yet.

Mind you, they’re always saying they would like some new pets…
• The Ideal Life Choice of DVDs includes Essential Guides on beekeeping, keeping chickens, wine tasting and painting portraits and price £14.99 each. For info on stockists visit