Jess, aged 13 writes: Over the weekend, mum and I took part in the “Bees in the Burbs” beekeeping workshop at the St Ermin’s Hotel, which we had visited once before to try out the “Young Bonds” spy package. I was really excited to put on a bee suit and get up close to a hive, and was not disappointed – we had a fantastic few hours.
Here is a video of our time outside with the bees:
We entered the beautiful hotel (where a wedding was taking place) and walked through the crowds to the first floor, which is where the majority of the workshop took place. We were greeted by a friendly woman named Camilla Goddard, who ran the workshop. Camilla is a beekeeper and looks over hives in more than twenty locations in London. She also rescues bees.
The workshop started by introducing ourselves and telling everyone why we were attending. I was definitely the youngest person there, but the atmosphere was very welcoming and everyone was genial. Most people attending were interested in getting a hive for themselves, something I had never considered and many of them were there because they had been given the workshop as a birthday or Christmas gift. I was there as I wanted to see bees and find out how honey is made.
We spent about an hour and a half in the room, where we learnt all about bees. We were told about different types of bee hives and their different components, and also the differences between a queen, worker and a drone. I was amazed that drone bees have virtually no other use than for procreation, as they are the only males in the hive. I also never knew that bees can find their hive in a three-mile radius, but if the position is changed, it should only be done in very short distances or over three miles. The reason for this is simple – if the hive is only slightly moved, the bees will be able to find it, and if it is moved over three miles, the bees will not even attempt to locate their old hive and will quickly adjust to the new one.
As I have a very sweet tooth, one of my highlights of the workshop had to be tasting honey! Lots of jars were passed across the table, and mum and I obviously tried them all. They included honeys made in London, but my two favourites had to be Scottish heather and eucalyptus leaf; they were delicious and very, very sweet…
Now, it was time to go outside. We all donned bee suits and went outside to the hives, which were absolutely beautiful. There were loads of different types of flowers and four purple beehives, home to over 300,000 bees.
This was really exciting. Camilla took the hive apart, and showed us all the different components. My favourite part was when she held up a slab which was covered in bees and let me hold it – something which thrilled me! I enjoyed seeing a drone being born, and learnt how to tell the different types of bees apart. I was disappointed that there weren’t more bees flying around our faces and getting close to us, but I think mum was relieved!
Soon, it was time to go back inside and take our bee suits off. We had the opportunity to ask Camilla any final questions, and learnt that queen bees are made by feeding larvae with “royal jelly”, and that emergency queens can be created if the queen dies. This involves making about four or five queen bees, who then they have to fight to determine who the new queen will be. To ensure that no other queens are born, the firstborn emergency queen goes around to where the other queens are growing and kills them…
This fascinated and shocked me – I had never thought that bees could have such interesting lives!
After two and a half hours, it was time to go. Mum and I thanked Camilla, before heading downstairs to the bar. Everyone who attends the workshop gets a free honey cocktail from the Caxton Bar, which we were all very excited about. As I am only 13 and mum doesn’t do a lot of drinking, we both asked for non-alcoholic cocktails, which were delicious. This was obviously another one of my highlights of the day.
Overall, mum and I had a fantastic, educational and enthralling time learning about bees about St Ermin’s Hotel and would definitely recommend it, possibly as a birthday present or something similar. I never knew that bees were such fascinating creatures, and will never think of them in the same way ever again.
We attended the “Bees in the Burbs” beekeeping workshop, which costs £25 per person on certain Saturdays throughout the year including May and June. More information on the dates can be found here (advance booking is essential). For guests who would like to check in for an overnight stay and bee keeping workshop, prices start from £259.00 per night (room only).
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