My Passion With Edgar Banisauskas

Software developer at Leeds-based Diva Telecom Edgar Banisauskas on his passion for beekeeping.

Edgar Banisauskas
Edgar Banisauskas

I LOVE to keep bees. I have two colonies in my garden in Wetherby and I mow the lawn after dark so they don’t get too upset.

When I got my first swarm it was like winning the Lottery. Ever since my mechanic father brought home a 1,200-page book on the subject, I’ve been fascinated. I grew up in a village in Lithuania about 50km from the capital Vilnius on a smallholding. We had cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, orchards and a large garden.

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At 14, I decided to add to the animal collection with a bee colony and nearly killed myself in the process. I was walking in the woodlands near where we lived, when I heard a buzzing sound and thought, “they’re mine!” With a cardboard box in one hand and a net over my head, I climbed the tree to about eight metres high – and fell out of it. Incredibly, I got away with only pulled muscles and my box of prized bees.

Here in England at the age of 30, my hobby is less hazardous. I have two colonies, which means up to 50,000 bees each. I would love to keep more than two hives but I think it would be a bit unfair on the neighbours, although they are lovely people and quite interested in them.

From spring to autumn, I inspect them about every two or three weeks. The Queen can start laying eggs from January, depending on the weather. It’s not good to disturb them too often or for no reason.

I wouldn’t say bees have characters, but their families are different, in that one of mine is more feisty than the other. For example, if I use my lawn mower, one colony will attack and the other won’t. I manage this by mowing after dark or in the rain!

Bee stings don’t bother me too much and I prefer not to wear gloves. I once got 25 stings at one time in Lithuania. My dad got 50. We didn’t go to hospital, we were fine. We just sat down and said to each other, “Are you feeling a little bit dizzy too?”

Last year was one of the worst in a century because the summer was very wet. Some beekeepers had to feed their bees in summer too because they couldn’t get their own food, which is unheard of. As well as the rain, there’s less food in the countryside because so many fields are given over for agriculture. But city beekeeping in the parks and people’s gardens is getting very popular. It would be better if we had fields, forests and wild places but we live as we live and need food as well. It’s a good thing people in the city are taking an interest.

On the question of why I keep bees, I just love them. I love the smell when you open the hive, especially in summer when there’s nectar flowing. Honey is not the most important thing though, it’s just having the bees, looking after them and understanding how they live and work.