I first realised beekeeping was for me when I was living in southern England, many many years ago. People would ask me to remove wasp and hornet nests from garages,
garden fence lines etc, which lead me into keeping and learning about the social habits of wasps and the many varieties
This hobby, which was strange to some people back
then, lead me to a local beekeeper. I remember the first time the roof and cover board were lifted off of a beehive: I
saw thousands of bees in one box for the first time. Wasps & bumble bees are not advanced social insects like the honey
bee so this was an awesome sight to see: so many insects living in one stack of boxes! And we were wearing only our thin
summer clothing! As a young man, I became fascinated with the workings of a beehive. I just looked on as the beekeeper
introduced the bees to me. I guess I've been hooked on beekeeping ever since. The climate in the UK is more forgiving to insects, with a longer spring starting
from very early in the month of March through to late October when we begin to hope the bees will settle down for winter
months ahead. The worst winter temperatures may drop to -2 degrees. You can guess
what I was thinking when I got a taste of the Canadian winter...eck!
From the mid 1987 to 1997 I spent most of my days living and working in the west coast
of Ireland, keeping my hobby close at hand, buying bees soon after arriving. The west coast of Ireland was a little wet compared to southern England. Ireland is truly an emerald isle, full of lush green meadows.
I have continued my enjoyment of bees here in Canada now since 1997 when I bought my first bees here in Canada, from a well respected beekeeper Neil Orr (R.I.P) who lived in
the town of Wooler, Ontario. I kept these bees in Madoc Ontario. Neil often remarked "beware of the bears and erect an electric fence". I'd shrug off these kind remarks and I would camp out many nights near my hives. One day the inevitable happened - I woke up and smelt the coffee. I saw firsthand the destruction
that bears can do to 12 strong hives. A bear turned my beehives into toothpicks. I managed to find a couple of small,
sad clusters of bees under paving slabs I used to stand the hives on. After sometime in the following year I moved the bees
closer to home in Whitby, Ontario. This was a rough start to beekeeping in Canada.