NLB logo


BBKA logo

John, the BeeMan's Blog

Click on the following for each month's subjects:


This Blog is primarily for access by all members of North London Beekeepers and I will post up-dates at the beginning of each month throughout the year.   During the active season it may become fortnightly.

It is intended to be educational, showing and explaining how I keep my bees.   If you have comments or questions, please email me at   If you want me to alert you to my latest blog by email, please let me know.

Beekeepers develop their own ways and you may find that some of my methods differ from the way you were taught.

My beekeeping methods have changed over the last 35 years, mostly they are conventional, according to the book, but I have adapted to new ways as dictated by varroa, climate change and other beekeepers’ ideas.   I read the BBKA News each month and will recommend articles of interest.

Go to top sign Go to top

How I started

My son came home from school singing the praises of a talk that his school organised on beekeeping, “Why don’t we keep bees?”   We became “me”!   I thought this sounded a great idea and joined a local authority class, tutored by a “Bee Inspector” in September 1977.   The evening classes were once a week for the whole of the school year, about 30 sessions held at New End Primary School in Hampstead.   I bought a hive of bees that Autumn and installed it at the bottom of my garden, ready for the coming spring.   These were very comprehensive sessions.

Virtually everything there was to know about the craft of beekeeping was covered.   Towards the end of the year we were into the long summer days so could open hives up and benefit from the practical experience.   On one of these days, very luckily, my bees swarmed and the whole class was ushered into my garden and was shown how to catch and hive it.

Go to top sign Go to top

North London Beekeepers

In 1987 I met the Chairman of North London Beekeepers and joined NLB immediately.   He soon got me on the committee and I first became Show Secretary followed by the newsletter producer and magazine distributor.   The membership of NLB at this time was only about 20, mainly chiefs and not many Indians?   This reached 59 by 2001 when I became Chairman.

During my 10 years as Chairman, we achieved four aspects that helped the association cope with its increasing membership:

  1. With a new constitution in hand, a successful application for an “Awards for All” lottery grant funded a new apiary shed and all its trimmings, also better presentation material for our show stand for festivals.
  2. The classes for beginners were becoming ever more popular and I developed these, using a pair of tutors working in tandem at each session.   We progressed from an overhead projector to power point presentation.
  3. IT allowed us to send most newsletters and AGM Notices by e-mail, saving the cost of all the photocopying, envelopes and postage.   Quite a major expenditure for the association.
  4. An up-dated website was developed with a new Web Master and an association Logo was designed for the first time.

I stepped down as Chairman in 2011.   I wanted to learn more about beekeeping so took, firstly the BBKA “Beekeeping Husbandry Assessment” and passed, followed the next year by the advanced version which I failed.   I studied thoroughly for these and the knowledge I gained has enabled me to hold discussion groups for the more experienced members of NLB.

Go to top sign Go to top

My Bees

Beekeeping in the 1970s & 80s seemed quite simple compared with the 90s and 00s.   Plenty of honey was produced and most of it was sold through the association at shows.   The early worries were mainly based around swarming and the neighbours.   It was after 1992 that varroa changed our beekeeping lives.   Initially I kept my hives in the back garden for about 20 years.   I now have 2 apiaries, the main one is in the wilds of St Pancras Cemetery, East Finchley (shown here) and the other in a builders yard just 5 minutes walk from home.   I have between 6 and 8 colonies.


This hobby has been challenging, interesting, social, rewarding and has taken me into retirement with a real purpose in life.   The people I have studied with, taught, met and worked with have, without exception, been delightful in their friendship and enthusiasm.

Go to top sign Go to top