The Honey Bee – a Farmer’s Friend

The BeeHolder, Spring 2014

David Foulkes, as a bright small school boy, benefitted by tuition in the art of beekeeping by his Headmaster, David Hamer, at Aberhafesp School.

Further inspired and excited at the prospect of keeping bees he persuaded his mother to let him buy a beehive at a local farm sale. Throughout the rest of his life beekeeping was dovetailed into his love for sheep, cattle, poultry, pigs and the farm in general. David farmed The Lluest, Tregynon until his death in 2001.

His hives were carefully laid out in the shelter of a dense hedge with a southerly aspect and easy access to the Lluest house so that he “could keep his eye on them”. He was always anxious as to their wellbeing - only entering the hives when necessary. He seemed to know when to look out for swarms and place empty boxes in strategic places to attract such passing swarms.

Even after keeping bees for all his life he remained fascinated by the mysteries of bees. He shared the many unanswered questions as to the lifestyle of the bee in an effort to become a more proficient beekeeper with a greater understanding – always willing to learn with humility and joy.

David Foulkes enjoyed sharing his love of bees with those willing to listen - much in the same way as he learnt from his schoolmaster. Many new people became beekeepers under his guidance and he was so pleased when they were successful. Many “open days” were held at the Lluest where he would demonstrate the finer points over a cup of tea. His enthusiasm was infectious.

He looked forward to the warmer weather after a long winter for his bees to forage pollen on the snowdrops he had planted at the Lluest. As the season went forward a wide variety of tree and shrub pollen became naturally available on the farm – he particularly welcomed wild white clover. The farm, garden and orchard benefitted by the pollination carried out by his bees. Successful farmers have a holistic approach to life and that includes keeping bees in our rich Montgomeryshire countryside.

Many farmers keep bees as a hobby – which raises the question as to why bees are not kept commercially on farms in the same way as sheep and cattle are managed.

Eileen Williams