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SUSTAINABILITY Want to be a beekeeper?

Outdoor Living
The beekeeping buzz


More and more people are harvesting honey from their very own hives

Honey bee is a healthier, more natural way of introducing a bit of sweetness into your life. It is significantly sweeter than table sugar, and it also contains enzymes that make it easier to digest, as well as several vitamins and antioxidants. It is also believed to have a myriad of health benefits – its anti-macrobial qualities are said to soothe sore throats and help cuts and burns heal. It can also help to keep dry, sensitive skin moisturised.
Honey has multiple uses in cooking and baking. It’s also delicious in its simplest form – spread on bread or toast, or plopped into a warm drink, such as tea. Honey also has a distinctive flavour, with many preferring it to sugar and other sweeteners.
Interestingly, liquid honey does not spoil. Its high sugar content means that bacteria cannot survive. Nor can airborne yeasts become active, as the moisture content is not high enough. Bees are also a vital part of the food chain, with many fruit and vegetable crops relying on pollination to thrive. It has been argued that around half of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from crops pollinated by bees. 
In short, there are a plethora of reasons to take up beekeeping. But where to begin? Beekeeping has become very popular, with more and more people discovering the joys of having a couple of hives in their own gardens every year. However, there’s more to beekeeping than you might think. It’s not just a matter of buying some hives and getting over the embarrassment of wearing a large white jump suit…
If you would like to know more about how Irish honey is made and learn the secret to keeping your own bees, an information weekend designed to answer all your questions is coming up.

Free information weekend
Horkan’s Lifestyle & garden centre, Turlough, Castlebar, have teamed up with Westport and Ballina Beekeepers’ Associations and organised a free information weekend, Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28. Over the two days, experts will be on hand, doling out advice on how to start bee keeping in your own garden. “We will have a number of local bee keeping experts on hand over the weekend to show and tell customers the key steps in starting a hive and the secrets in getting honey from your own garden” says Paraic Horkan.
“We have also organised Mileevan Honey producers to come along on both days to show customers the different types of Irish honey and give them an opportunity to taste the different types of honey produced in Ireland.” The honey and beekeeping information weekend takes place at Horkan’s Lifestyle & Garden Centre, Turlough, Castlebar. It starts at 10am on Saturday, November 27, and at 12pm on Sunday, November 28.

For more details on the free information weekend, call 087 6779704. For more information on Westport Beekeepers’ Association, visit www.wbkc.info, and for information on The Ballina Beekeepers’ Association, contact Jarvis Patten, chairman, on 087 1302385.