Keeping Bees At St Ermin’s Hotel, London

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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.

Learning about bees
Camilla taught us all about the different components of a bee hive

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…

Tasting delicious honey
Tasting delicious honey

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.

Wearing Bee Suits
Mum and I wearing our bee suits out on the terrace

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!

Outside with the bee hives
I held a frame covered with bees!

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!

Free Cocktails
Some of the cocktails being made

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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We’ve joined up with #WeekendWanderlust where you can find out about all sorts of great travel adventures!

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41 Responses

  1. julie

    Oh god just the sight of bees freaks me out, you’re a better person than me to do this! x

  2. Penny

    What a great day out, and an unexpected place to find bees too. Love that you got a cocktail afterwards and that you were the one who wanted to know how honey was made – me too!

  3. Michelle

    bees are such amazing creatures and it sounds like you had a great time. I don’t think I’d get that close to them though even with a suit on!!

    • Jess

      The cocktails were obviously delicious, but I’m sure you’d like being with the bees too – there weren’t that many buzzing around us!

    • Jess

      Mum was hesitant too, but it was fine as we were wearing bee suits and there weren’t many bees getting up close to us.

  4. Mums do travel

    This sounds like a very interesting workshop and I’ve learnt many things about bees just by reading what you’ve written about it – thank you.

  5. Christine

    We have a beekeeper down our road who sells his honey and we live in the middle of a town so I guess it’s possible almost anywhere! I’ve planted bee friendly flowers this year in the hope his bees will visit. I’m not sure I’d want to be a bee keeper myself but the course sounded like an interesting way to learn more about them.

    • Jess

      It was fascinating; I never realised what interesting creatures they are. That’s cool about the beekeeper near you – have you tried his honey?

  6. mama syder

    Wow, what a great course! I would love to keep bee’s but my lot have all said ‘no way!’ because they are terrified of them. I might get to keep them one day. would love my own honey x

    • Jess

      I was surprised by how exciting beekeeping was, and how little effort it required. I’m sure you could keep bees someday 🙂

    • Jess

      Haha 😉 There actually weren’t a lot of bees flying around us, so we were fine.

  7. Mummy Melton

    Such a great post! Looks like you had a great time. My dad keeps bees, I have to say I’m not their biggest fan so stay well clear #countrykids

  8. Jolanta aka Casual Traveler

    What a great post! I love honey as well, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried eucalyptus leaf honey! I’ll have to look for that. Bees are fascinating creatures and so important. I hope the governments will take measures to protect them, and reverse the epidemic of disappearing bees.

  9. Connie Reed

    What a fascinating experience. I’m with Mum, though, and would have been relieved not to have lot of bees flying about my face.

  10. Globalmouse

    This looks fabulous, what a great experience….and oh, those cocktails look amazing, great they have non alcoholic versions available. I love your write up – it makes me want to visit.

  11. Emma

    I’d love to do this – always up for trying something new and learning something new.

  12. Sonya Cisco

    I immediately have the Eddie Izzard ‘covered in bees’ sketch in my head! I am encouraging bees in the garden with my planting, but not sure I would be brave enough to go the whole hog with a hive!

  13. Richelle

    This looks so fun! I’m especially curious to learn about beekeeping because so many bees around the world have been dying in recent years. I had some homemade honey in Xinjiang, China and it was amazing! I’d love to try something like this. Also, those cocktails look awesome.

  14. Tim

    Very cool. An uncle of mine used to keep bees and the whole process is fascinating. You provided me with more knowledge on the subject than I ever had before though. All that learning must have made those cocktails taste even better 🙂

  15. Pola (Jetting Around)

    Goodness, it never crossed my mind to try this… Bad memories of a bad sting that I couldn’t take care of for 24 hrs. But I’m sure if you’re in good hands, there’s nothing to fear.

  16. Sarah Christie

    Wow my son would have loved this me too, it sounds so interesting, Bees’ are just so beautiful and must be fascinating to get so close too x

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