With bees on our mind thanks to our new campaign film it seemed like the perfect time to speak to our friends at The Noble Bee. The small business produces the most delicious, award-winning New Forest honey and runs its own beekeeping experience days at their base at Furzedown Farm Wildlife Conservation area.
Here, founder Simon Noble tells us what life as a beekeeper is really like...
Simon Noble, founder of The Noble Bee
Having grown up on a farm, I’d always had an interest in the natural world. My Dad was also a hobby beekeeper, but unfortunately had to give up beekeeping in the 80s as he developed an allergic reaction to bee stings (which is common with beekeepers). I have fond memories of helping Dad spin out the honey at the end of summer when I was a little boy. He sold the honey that the bees produced in the farm shop.
"I have fond memories of helping Dad spin out the honey at the end of summer when I was a little boy."
The pivotal moment that led me to become a beekeeper was finding an old beech tree that had snapped in half during a winter storm. In the hollow of this tree happened to be a wild colony of honey bees. Not wanting to see the bees perish, I got in touch with The New Forest Beekeepers Association, who sent out an experienced beekeeper called Jan Roper. I watched Jan as she rescued the colony, and I became instantly captivated by them.
I found it so interesting that I went straight home and booked on to a beekeeping for beginners course, commencing the following spring. I didn’t realise at the time that this moment would change the direction of my whole life and take me on a wonderful adventure that I would have never anticipated.
Bees are integral to a healthy ecosystem and are a crucial part of the bigger picture that is Mother Nature. So we’re doing our part to help the plight of the bees, but in doing so, we’re having a wider positive impact on the health of the woodland and surrounding areas beyond. We also run beekeeping experience days during spring and summer, and use these events as a chance to spread the word about how people can help bees and other pollinators.
As a beekeeper, you become in tune with the seasonal blossoming of all the different wildflowers. I’ve learnt a much deeper respect and understanding of nature which has been very enlightening for me. I’ve also learnt to be confident in giving classes, as I teach beekeeping at a local college and run beekeeping experience days from the woodland here. Before becoming a teacher, I found the prospect terrifying.
"I’ve learnt a much deeper respect & understanding of nature."
This time of year, my days are nicely varied. In the morning the first job is to post out internet orders from the previous day, then the day might include heading out to some of our various apiaries to check on the bees. There is also the big job of harvesting and processing the honey.
I do this three times a season, once after the spring flowering, then again after the summer flowering and then again, for the heather honey. That also involves moving our strongest hives, out into the middle of the New Forest National Park, at the beginning of August, for six weeks, so that they can produce pure New Forest Heather Honey.
"Did you know that in the UK we’ve lost 97% of our wildflowers meadows since WW2?"
I love honey, especially on toast in the morning. And I’m teaming up with my sister this summer to launch a honey spiced rum. So, we’ll see what happens there! I also hope to launch a charity that helps to preserve and establish wildflower meadows. Did you know that in the UK we’ve lost 97% of our wildflowers meadows since WW2? Other than that, I’d just like to generally improve The Noble Bee as a business. Being a bee farmer is the hardest way to make an easy living!
Try the fruits of Simon and his buzzing friends’ labour from thenoblebee.com