My Hive & Keeper road trip to Berkshire
I really love this part of Hive & Keeper, getting out and about visiting other beekeepers to talks shop and learn from. This road trip was to visit Matt Aldridge, a beekeeper based at Compton in Berkshire. With the beekeeping season in full swing I took him up on his offer of a tour around the countryside visiting all of his apiaries and watching as he went about rearing a new line of queens that he hopes will inherit his favourite colony's genetics: better temperament and productivity. Well I can see why he'd like better tempered bees, his made me realise that BLT could be worse - but then his are really productive, with the hives looking like Dr Who's tardis at the moment, stacked high with supers full of honey. All good news for Matt as it was his childhood love of honey that got him into beekeeping!
The countryside is gorgeous, rolling hills and wide views. All of Matt's apiaries are in painfully beautiful spots. Matt used to work in the wine industry which probably explains his approach to choosing sites for his apiaries: he draws a circle on the map to capture the 3 mile radius a colony will usually forage within and looks for diversity to help make the honey more interesting. As we went from apiary to apiary Matt pointed out the woodlands; avenues of huge horse chestnut trees; gardens; swathes of cover crops grown especially for game birds; wild meadow planting; Christmas tree farms which don't use sprays so between the trees are lots of wild flowers and fields for cattle and others for arable crops such as oilseed rape and field bean. I can't wait to taste the honey from each apiary and see how each has captures the landscape! May need to be several spoonfuls to just make sure I like it... :)