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Micahel Wale meets Charlie Dimmock and discusses her new interest - bee keeping!
8:40am Friday 17th February 2012 in Bees
Charlie Dimmock has always lived deep within the New Forest, where her love for gardening began and continues, but she confesses to another interest that has begun to fascinate her….bees.
“At first”, she tells me, “ I wanted to find out about the solitary bee. I went to Holland three years ago where a guy shoed me around these amazing gardens. He showed me these solitary bees. I thought ‘I’ll do that’. But I took James’s advice. He had jumped into it big time, he told me to do some basic research, and get in touch with my local bee association. There are winter night courses, and outdoors in the spring”.
So she started to be taught by James Dearsley in Surrey. Between them they decided to create a DVD called Beekeeping for Beginners in association with Stitchcombe Productions (www.stitchcombe.com) The DVD gives us an insight into the basics of keeping bees; it is an engaging and instructional DVD. James takes Charlie (his keen student) on a journey which becomes a course in beekeeping and teaches Charlie the main elements from the purchase of your hive and bees, to maintaining the bee colony and the excitement of extracting her first batch of honey.
In the DVD, James also takes the viewer on a journey to meet bee experts and discovers where to get your bees, how to keep your bees healthy, how to stop them swarming and also ensuring that your bees survive. Just about everything you need to know about keeping and maintaining bees as well as hints and tips about who else to call on when you need them too.
Charlie says, “James and I hope that you will take this voyage of discovery into beekeeping with us both and become a beekeeper as it really is a rare treat, it gets you outside, and you don’t need a lot of space. It is for both the young and the old and this DVD can also teach your children where food comes from and we also hope that it will also save the plight of the honeybee for future generations.”
Says James, “There is so much to learn about bees, I love them and don’t think I will ever grow bored of them. Have you heard of the Waggle Dance? Well that’s an amazing event that tells bees where the flowers are – when you see it for the first time it’s just lovely – enjoy the journey with us.”
Charlie plans to have two or three hives. It will be a hobby. She explains : “ I’m doing it for the interest side of it. Sixty per cent of our food is pollinated by insects. My garden is just under half an acre. I’ve got a field at the back with a horse in four acres altogether. I do have a wildflower area with hardy annuals . I’ve got a big veg garden. The pumpkins weren’t too good this past year, that is because night time temperatures were rubbish. But all my salad stuff and tomatoes were just good. I don’t use slug pellets, and I don’t spray. I still enjoy gardening even though it is my work. I love just pootling and pottering about. A bit of dead heading. It’s not fun double digging, but then I don’t need to because I’ve got sandy soil. Gardening goes through phases, fashion. Four or five years ago there was a begonia that was launched that began a small takeover. Then decorative cabbages caught on, but not now..
“ I’ve got a greenhouse, ponds. Inevitably as a professional gardener I tend to be away from home when I should be there. You get all your seedlings going and then you’re away during March and April. Last year I knew I wasn’t going to be there so I covered the whole of the veg patch with pumpkins, squash and courgettes. They suppressed the weeds. I roasted the pumpkins and made Thai curry , and pumpkin seeds with some pasta and coconut simple but wonderful.”
She enthused as well about beetroot roasted in the oven, and said she could never understand that it was always drenched in vinegar, when it tasted much better without it.
When we met she was limping as the result of an injury during her participation in the TV reality show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. “ We did absailing down a frozen waterfall, sliding down a hill on a lilo, crossing a river on almost nothing. Then I hurt myself!”.
Every month Smallholder magazine has up to date information on bee keeping - March issue on sale now with Spring jobs for bee keepers