Sean Hearn is the Castle's resident beekeeper and all-round expert on everything bee related.
Not only is Sean the keeper of our bee's and a Garden volunteer, he also manages the Apiary at Hawkwood with the help of the bee team and support from OrganicLea.
"I started my training in Beekeeping in 2009 with a conventional course. I instantly felt troubled by some of the practices that were being encouraged and this sent me on journey to find more sustainable ways of working. I have subsequently trained bio-dynamically and sustainably. Since then I have set up and managed an apiary, one of the first using sustainable methods in London". Sean Hearn: At the Apiary
At The Castle we made the decision earlier this year to move away from conventional beekeeping and focus on sustainable methods of keeping bees. Once the old hives were removed we have been bee-less for a while whilst we waited for a hive to swarm before we could re-introduce bees into the Castle garden using our own, homemade Warre hive.
(A 'Warre' hive is comprised of tiers of boxes fitted with top-bars but no frames. The reason for this is to let the bees build their own natural comb rather than putting in frames with ready made standardized sizes of cells. As they build the comb from the top bar down, extra boxes can be added underneath as the comb extends downwards. The addition of boxes underneath means the hive doesn't have to be opened, letting out essential heat and stressing the bees out)
In May we got the exciting news that Sean had a swarm and was bringing them over to their new home in our garden. Exciting news!
To read all about their arrival we will let Sean tell the story in his own words, here on his blog. You can also learn more about sustainable bee keeping from previous blog posts on his site.
Sean now helps others to set up community apiaries and delivers courses and lectures promoting sustainable beekeeping. "I feel it is vitally important we learn about Bees as they are a way for people to understand and connect to the wonder and complexity of the environments we live in".