So the old saying goes. And as we approach spring every beekeeper wonders what the new season will bring.

Will the weather be warm and gentle? Will they make a crop of honey this year? But keeping bees is not just about taking the stores that the hive has made, there’s much more to the subject than that. Here at Trill an important part of the farm project is education. We have the opportunity to both teach and learn.

When keeping bees there is always more to discover and the delight when watching the bees at work brings a sense of wonder and respect for all life. And this is something to share with those who visit or attend training courses whatever their age.

When there is an opportunity to look inside the bee colony no one can fail to be impressed by the organisation: the worker bees, the hexagonal cells with eggs, larvae and developing brood.

There we can also see the stores of pollen and honey. Of course, there can be dangers in beekeeping. Stings are painful. So we have just built an observation hive which allows us to see inside without interfering. Put simply, if we don’t interfere then the bees will not sting!

We usually extract the honey in early August. But we only take what the bees can spare and are sure to leave them plenty of stores for the winter. It is always good to be mindful of the full cycle of the year both for the bees and the beekeeper. Take too much at the wrong time and we all pay the price later. That is why the swarm in May is the most valuable: it is the result of the strong growth of the colony in the spring. And that in turn is dependent upon the strength of the colony as it comes out of winter. So this month is the most critical in many ways.

Julian Barnard is a founder and teacher at Healing Herbs Bach ower essences. He regularly stays in this part of Devon and is establishing a bee colony at Trill Farm. Julian is running courses on April 28th and May 5th.