With constant warnings surrounding declining bee populations in Ireland, there has never been a better time to take an interest. It was therefore heartening to see such a great attendance at the South Wexford Bee-keeper's Association's (SWBKA) annual beginners training course.
Run one night a week for eight weeks, the course aims to give those with an interest a crash course in bee-keeping, in the hopes of eventually recruiting them into the association and seeing them progress to keeping bees all by themselves.
Among the topics covered in the course are hives and their construction, required equipment and apiary hygiene, pests and diseases affecting the bee population.
'This is basically a preliminary course for those who have an interest,' said SWBKA secretary Peter Kehoe. 'We take them through the basics and at the end there'll be a field trip to an apiary and we'll open a hive and show them how it's done.'
According to Peter, interest is growing in bee-keeping, as is membership of the SWBKA.
'The hardest part can be getting the bees,' he says. 'This year we actually have bees lined up for the beginners that want to continue on though. We've had a very mild winter this year and the losses have been a lot smaller. Usually, you'd be talking 20-30%.'
Those attending the course came from Duncannon right up to Enniscorthy and the association also has members all over the county.
'We have about 50 members currently,' Peter explained. 'Some of these have been keeping bees for up to 30 years and really have a world of knowledge, which is invaluable. For a lot of members, bee-keeping would have been an interest that they got from their parents or grandparents.'
The group meets the first Thursday of every month at 8 p.m. in The Farmer's Kitchen and new members are always welcome. While the perception might be that there's a lot involved, Peter says it's a relatively inexpensive hobby.
'Well, like a lot of things, you could spend a fortune if you wanted,' he laughed.
'We try to promote the sustainable side of things though and once we show people how to make their own hives and build things up, generally they don't spend a fortune.'
Anyone interested in taking up bee-keeping as a hobby is invited to come along to a meeting or contact Peter on 086 3868273 or by email on email@example.com.