In January last year, I attended a conference on landscape use and sustainability at Sussex University, and I took away a strong, galvanising feeling of implementing necessary change. Then – bam – the pandemic hit which actually obliged me to pursue the avenues I had pledged to consider.
I thought about putting my Introduction to Sustainable Beekeeping courses online, but I alter these courses according to my audience, so although the basic content is the same each time, depending on the previous experience (if any) and aspirations of the attendees, my approach regarding the information varies. And besides, everyone seems to enjoy coming to my house so they can meet and hear me in person. Or perhaps it’s just the tea and cake…
I continued with my Intro courses on a socially-distanced basis, and that will remain in place for 2021 until restrictions are lifted. My Gardening for Bees & Wildlife course has also been rejigged for this coming year so I can hold [part of it at least] it in the garden if remotely possible, so I am looking forward to welcoming people to that. It is now possible to buy my courses here online, or through CraftCourses where gift vouchers are available.
My Spring, Summer, and Autumn/Winter workshops have been transferred over to my Patreon as this enables me to deliver relevant, up-to-the-minute content to beekeepers and continue mentoring those wanting guidance and accessibility. This is still a work in progress but my aim is to build a bank of sustainable beekeeping resources using not only my own experience, but also sharing those of my patrons too, in order to show a wide range of real-life colonies. Observation is key with a more hands-off approach, and by collating information from a range of beekeepers with the same approach we can all learn from each other. This was the beauty of the workshops as we had the chance to compare our colonies, and the Patreon has enabled me to continue this valuable way for people to participate. Patreon is not particularly well-known in the UK but it is a subscription service for my beekeeping content and it means I can deliver videos, advice, and my accumulated knowledge without resorting to ad revenue! It also allows a degree of stability and support which has been incredibly helpful through the 6 months, and for this I am extremely grateful. Once subscribed, you have access to the whole of the back catalogue so can binge-watch me collecting swarms, checking hives, the Q&A sessions, and a host of other ramblings. I do have a tab on my menu which explains Patreon in more detail so do have a look if you feel it may be for you.
There is also my Beekeeping in a Box, and although it is now too late to deliver in time for Christmas, this may be a way for you to get started in spite of anything else going on. In the box, there is a comprehensive booklet as well as worksheets to help you find the best site for your hive, establish whether there is the necessary forage to feed your 50,000-strong colony, and provide you with the “starter” kit of lemongrass and propolis to encourage some bees to take up residence in your shiny new hive. It is never too late to get started but the beekeeping season starts here in the UK in March, so perhaps you can use any post-Christmas restrictions to embark on this fascinating and valuable hobby?
Alternatively, there are my weekly vlogs, The Shawpits Diaries, which are more about my life outside my beesuit! They are all linked here on my website so there’s over 12 hours of chickens, baking, dog walks, sourdough, nature notes, and other such gems if you’re interested in finding out more about me.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you all a happy, healthy, and positive Christmas and New Year.