Rosemary Downs, partner in the corporate and business team at the Doncaster office of hlw Keeble Hawson, on her passion for beekeeping.
After years without a pet I now have 300,000 creatures housed in my back garden! Although bees are certainly not domesticated creatures and I can’t imagine that many people would see them as replacements for a dog, a cat or even a rabbit.
My interest in beekeeping began when I was persuaded by a local beekeeper to host some of his hives in my garden.
He assured me that he would look after the bees; however I was soon sucked into his hobby when he asked “would you like to watch?” and offered to lend me his beekeeping suit.
I find the social hierarchy of bees fascinating.
In fact, in a household like mine with a husband and three student-aged sons, the model of the queen bee with all her workers and drones attending to her needs is quite appealing.
On a hot summer’s day having bee hives really adds to the enjoyment of my garden. I sit and listen to the background hum and watch them at work among the flowers.
Having bees ignites a passion for gardening too. You want to ensure that you have the right plants in the garden to offer something for your bees throughout the year.
And the pleasure of seeing the first early spring flowers is magnified when you watch the bees feeding from them.
My passion for beekeeping extends beyond the hives in my garden and watching them feed.
As a beekeeper I feel as if I am taking part in an activity that is making a real difference to the environment and that by assisting bees I am playing a crucial role in ecology and the food chain.
Before I had nine beehives in my garden I rarely saw a honeybee. Yet their role in the pollination of crops is vital.
They will locate crops in a two-mile radius from their hives and have a real preference for certain crops. Oilseed rape is a particular favourite.
However, the recent cold and wet weather means that the oilseed rape crop is likely to be late and sparse – this is a real concern for beekeepers and farmers alike.
You can’t keep bees and just leave them to it.
I have to carry out husbandry in the form of keeping the hives in shape, treating the hives to keep down parasites like varroa mite and ensuring the bees have some supplementary source of food over the winter.
However, if as a beekeeper I do the basics, then the bees will do what they have done for millions of years and rather miraculously produce delicious and health-giving honey for my family.
You could say that a beehive is a metaphor for my law firm.
As a partner, I am like the beekeeper who makes sure the conditions are right for the bees to go out and do their jobs to the best of their ability.