There has been a huge response to a beekeeping course which commenced in Derry recently.
Local beekeepers believe that raised awareness about the importance of bees for the environment has encouraged a full class of people to take up the hobby.
Ciara Deane completed the course almost two years ago and is now the manager of an apiary based at Brooke Park.
Ciara, who works at the Playtrail, first heard about the local beekeeping group two decades ago.
“I was really interested in taking part, but the years went by without me ever doing anything about it and then I had my children,” she said.
When she eventually signed up to the beekeeping course in 2017, Ciara admits that the ‘bug really got me.’
“I was so interested in the science of bees. They are amazing wee insects and it is great to have a frame of thousands of bees in your hands.”
Ciara finds working with the bees is a form of escape, despite having been stung 15 times during the last year.
“You just have to keep calm when handling the bees, but generally you forget all about them because you are looking to see how much pollen and how much nectar there is. It is like entering another wee world.
“You just lose time completely, even if you are just nipping up to feed the bees during winter.”
Ciara, a mother of two who hosts a forestry school in the Playtrail and is involved with horticulture on the site, admits that her bees are ‘like my third baby.’
“Getting stung wouldn’t put me off at all because I understand that I am going into their environment.
“The honey, which this year was so beautiful and sweet, can be used for so many things. It can be used on wounds, for colds and for hayfever.”
“I have made other products from bees wax, for example lip balm. During one course we were taught how to use the honey to make the likes of foot cream.
“In years to come I would love to make more products from the honey, but just for myself,” she said.
“I wouldn’t do it as a business or anything, but you could. Beekeeping can become quite a profitable hobby if you want it to and if you were making products from the honey it would really pay for itself because people are keen to use natural products.”
Ciara is also keen to see more apiaries established locally in other parks or community facilities to help the bee population thrive.
“People are more aware of the importance of bees to the environment because it has been all over the media. This year a full class has signed up to the beekeeping course and the response has been brilliant.”
For more information about the Derry and District Beekeepers Association or to find out details of future beekeeping courses email firstname.lastname@example.org