John Cameron: This was the bees’ knees

From the left are David Fry (vice-president), my assistant Daniel Tricker, myself plus committee member and fellow beekeeper Dave Cawte.
From the left are David Fry (vice-president), my assistant Daniel Tricker, myself plus committee member and fellow beekeeper Dave Cawte.
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I have auctioned some weird and wonderful things over the years, but last weekend was a first for me when my firm was asked by the Meon Valley Beekeepers’ Association to assist them with their annual auction.

When I received a call from vice-president Gerry Fry, my first question was ‘what would we be auctioning?’

‘Everything one might need for apiculture,’ was Gerry’s reply, before giving examples such as honey, beeswax, clothing, centrifugal presses for extracting honey, bee hives and even live bee colonies!

Gerry brought me quickly up to speed about the association, which is a registered charity with around 100 members covering much of Hampshire.

My weekends are very precious these days and reserved for general battery charging, tip runs, gardening and, of course, long-distance bike rides. Nevertheless, I thought this an auctioneering request we couldn’t turn down.

Besides, I once toyed with the idea of taking up apiculture so thought it would be good to meet some experienced beekeepers. Plus, Gerry promised me some jars of locally-produced honey, which are great for preventing hay fever

The organisers were expecting around 200 lots that would be catalogued and arranged out for display in the adjoining field to Greatham Village Hall, near Liss – just off the A3.

I’d roped in my young assistant auctioneer Daniel Tricker, figuring it would be good experience and, if I was going to get stung, he could share the experience.

The gods favoured us with fine weather and so, armed with a gavel and some factor 50 sunscreen, we set off for Greatham.

We had initially intended to drive our little Italian three-wheeler scooter van to the event, as the Piaggio-built model is known as an ‘Ape,’ which is Italian for bee. However, with a top speed of 30 mph, we thought it might make us late for the auction and I don’t think Daniel was too keen on the prospect of us both being crammed together for too long inside its tiny cab!

It proved to be a very interesting day and most of the lots sold.

We also discovered that it wouldn’t be too expensive to take up apiculture and turn a hobby into a cottage industry selling honey and beeswax, the latter of which makes wonderful candles.

Daniel had the opportunity of selling two live bee colonies for around £180 each, and Mrs Cameron was delighted to learn I had followed her instructions for the day – not to return home with yet another hobby and a hive full of bees!