One of the other hats I wear (and literally I do wear a hat, or at least a hood and net) is that of beekeeper. I first started keeping bees two years ago as part of my drive towards self-sufficiency. With my partner David we are the volunteer beekeepers at Bill Quay Community Farm, a role we picked up more by accident than by design.
David and I started with three hives in 2011. At the start of June 2012 we were down to two, by the end of that month we went up to 8 as the mad, wet weather encouraged the bees to go onto swarm overdrive. All hives survived the winter and we now have 10 after capturing a couple of swarms last month.
I am one of Gateshead Council's representatives on the joint committee that runs the open air Beamish Museum. Last year the museum director reported that Beamish was setting up a beekeeping project. Last week at the committee meeting, the director made no mention of the bees during his report so I asked about the state of the project. It appears to be going well and I found myself volunteering my services to help out. So whilst the majority of the museums volunteers turn up to dress in Edwardian or Georgian costumes and drive steam trains and trams, I can see myself turning up in beekeeping smock and wellies! Mind you, if I were offered the chance to drive a train or tram, I'd grab it faster than you can blink!