We are delighted to introduce our new Beekeeper in Residence, local beekeeper Jacek, originally from Poland.
We were introduced to Jacek through his connections with Scottish Gliding Centre at Scotlandwell, local to us, where he not only has hives but partakes in the recreational activity.
Jacek has been beekeeping for over 20 years he initially started learning with his Dad as a young boy. In his first year he remembers fondly having bought a hive and honey extractor but finding it incredibly difficult to populate his hive as he struggled to find his first colony but luck was on his side as one day sitting beneath a tree in his Grandma’s garden he was lucky enough to find, and subsequently catch, a swarm of bees, the rest then became history.
Some years later when arriving in Scotland his friend mentioned that he would like to do a beekeeping course organised by the Edinburgh and Midlothian Bee Association so Jaceck decided to tag along and revive his love of beekeeping. He was eager to go along to see if beekeeping was practiced differently in Scotland compared with Poland. One thing then led to another and he subsequently bought his first hive in Scotland and so begun his journey into Scottish beekeeping, he’s never looked back since.
Jacek is incredibly passionate about beekeeping and is often consulted as an expert to give advice or help someone who may have got into a difficulty with a swarm eg recently he was called to a house where a swarm had become trapped between a chimney and wall, he had to retrieve the swarm by smashing through the outer chimney breast in order to free them. This was an extreme case but he is available if you do ever need help safely removing a swarm.
Whilst it is still only a hobby to Jaceck he would dearly love to turn it into a full-time job particularly as he enjoys being so close to nature whilst beekeeping. He also finds that every day is a school day when you are beekeeping he’s always learning something new. When it comes to beekeeping he believes you gain a far more in-depth knowledge of agriculture as you learn what helps and hinders beekeeping and the bees thriving and how to work with the agricultural seasons and calendar. He very much believes that as a beekeeper you almost always have to be a joiner, learning to connect the pieces of puzzles together to understand how best nature works. He also finds it incredibly rewarding, relaxing and often wonders at the magic that goes on within the hives.
We asked him what his top tips would be for becoming a beekeeper. He believes the best way to get involved is first to talk and join a local beekeepers association and do a course so that you have a good understanding of what’s involved and something to work from going forward.
Jacek was delighted to get involved with beekeeping at Loch Leven’s Larder particularly with the abundance of wildflowers in and around our farms, offering a plentiful supply of food and nectar to his bees. The field directly beside the hives is currently in full bloom with a brilliant mixed display of Buckwheat, Kings Berseem Clover, Kings Crimson Clover, Serradella Vetch, King Red Clover and Phacelia a real sight to behold. Jacek has slowly been introducing hives over recent weeks to this area and they now contain both Buckfast Bees and Carniolan Bees. Currently, he believes there are around 200000 bees.
We asked Jacek, perhaps naively, how long he thought it would be before Loch Leven’s Larder bees began to produce honey. He explained beekeeping is a science and often unpredictable, there are so many factors that can affect production one of which is weather and with new colonies, it’s often really hard to say. So for now it’s an exciting waiting game, one we eagerly anticipate.
We asked Jacek if there was anything we could be doing to help bees and their survival. He explained that the best we can do is to plant fruit trees like apple, plum, cherry, acacia, and pear that gives bees a good start because these trees flower early and give bees a great start, he also rated lime tree or sycamore trees which we have readily available on our land.
Jacek can be seen regularly visiting and tending to the Larder bees. You’ll often see him getting prepared beside his car, putting his beekeeping suit on at the bottom of the Cricket Field just in front of the Larder, Loch Side. He’s very happy to be approached there (but not at the hives) and offer advice or answer any questions you might have. If you need his services otherwise it’s best to call the Larder and we can put you in touch.