Beekeeper profile: Robin Harman
Our recent interview with head LHM beekeeper Eric was so popular that we began reaching out to our other beekeepers for their insights into the world of beekeeping. Robin Harman oversees a number of colonies at apiaries across Essex, nurturing the bees and ensuring they have happy access to the plentiful supply of plants and flowers in the area. Together with the bees, Robin is responsible for producing much of the delicious honey that you can find within these very pages.
Read on for Robin’s take on the life of a beekeeper…
When did you first become interested in bees?
About ten years ago my wife wanted to become a beekeeper after seeing a stall at a country fair. She signed up for a course, but it was at the same time as her cub meetings so she sent me along. That was it, I was hooked.
What first attracted you to become a beekeeper?
The way that these insects can manage themselves, get through the winter and then expand massively during the spring. Of course producing my own honey might have come into it. It’s just fascinating
What challenges do you frequently encounter and how do you overcome them?
The massive expansion leading to the lack of kit, especially in swarm season. One hive will suddenly be two hives. I have never really had problems with ‘defensive colonies’ as I believe nature produces defensive colonies for a reason, one I’m yet to understand.
Would you say that beekeeping is in the ascendency in the UK? What can be done to encourage more people to get into it?
Yes… Social media has really fuelled the interest in beekeeping with several very good sites having appeared – Norfolk Honey with Stuart leading it comes to mind. Expansion of proper courses is needed as most are run by small clubs and are heavily limited by numbers. We will be seeking to bridge this gap next Spring.
What are the main reasons why people should become beekeepers?
It’s a lovely hobby with a lot of mature people doing it who like the social aspect of it, as well as protecting honeybees.
Do you get stung much when handling bees, and how can people overcome their fear around being stung?
It goes through phases – I don’t get stung that often and I will say it is due to competent handling. I always tell students that young house bees – the ones they will normally encounter – have not developed a sting and will therefore be easier to handle.
Do you have any tips for people who don’t have much space to keep bees but still want to get into beekeeping?
Bees can be kept on roof extensions and balconies without many problems. I tell people to get their walking boots on and talk to local residents who have large gardens. I currently have two apiaries at local garden centres. Plus, farmers are always keen to have extra pollinators.
What’s your favourite honey infusion and why?
Lemon as it reminds me of having honey and yogurt in Greece.
And finally, what do you like to do outside of looking after bees and producing honey?
Visiting the county of my birth – Norfolk – and trying to convince my wife, who is from East London, that it should be the place we live, and that we could have lots more beehives. So far I have failed.
Click the image below to get your hands on a jar of Robin’s favourite Lemon Infused Honey!