Our Hannah receiving her Diploma for completing the Beefarming Apprenticeship.
How time flies, three years ago we were finalising the paperwork with the Bee Farmers Association ready to welcome our first apprentice, Hannah. We were a little unsure what to expect and we weren't the only ones, the Beefarming Apprenticeship had never had a cohort before, having only come into existence that year, in 2014.
Not only did we feel we could do with an extra pair of hands as the London Honey Company grew, but more importantly, we wanted to share this rather unusual but very special career and to ensure that our craft gets passed on to the next generation of beekeepers.
The London Honey Company's first ever Beefarmer Apprentice Hannah Reeves, pictured on the roof of the Tate Britain, whose hives we manage.
In the one hundred years to 2010 there was around a 75% decrease in the number of bee hives in the UK (Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming). Not to mention that many beefarmers are nearing retirement, in 2015 the average age of a beefarmer was 66 (The Telegraph, 2015). If British honey is to continue to make it to the table then more professional beekeepers are going to have to learn the craft. There is a clear need to invest in a new generation of beekeepers and the apprenticeship is one of the solutions to helping entrants to beefarming.
Hannah monitoring our mating hives.
Those successfully completing the three-year programme are awarded a Diploma Towards Excellence in Bee Farming by the Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers. It was a proud moment earlier on in the month when Steve attended the award ceremony where Hannah, our first apprentice to graduate, received her Diploma. Having worked alongside Hannah for three years, we didn't need a piece of paper to tell us what a good beekeeper she is, but it was fitting to have an evening to celebrate all the hard work the apprentices have put in.
The London Honey Company is now excited to be recruiting its second apprentice, applications are open to 16 to 24 year olds. You can read more about the apprenticeship scheme here.
The first cohort of Beefarming Apprentices to complete their Diploma, pictured with their mentors and employers.