Amy Newsome has turned this treasured country hobby into a relaxing city pursuit. She spoke to Tessa Waugh; portraits by Richard Cannon.
Although beekeeping is traditionally associated with the countryside, Amy Newsome’s bees actually live on an allotment in south-west London. ‘Beekeeping has become very popular in cities and is often branded as a new hipster hobby,’ she points out.
‘There’s also a growing awareness of the need for sustainable forage and designers are starting to ensure that urban green spaces include flowering plants for our insects.’
Training as a horticulturist in the Cotswolds gave Miss Newsome the chance to pursue her hobby in earnest. ‘Anna Greenland, a favourite vegetable grower of Raymond Blanc, really kick-started my passion,’ she explains.
‘She gave me the chance to manage the kitchen-garden apiary at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, delivering pounds of fresh comb straight to the kitchens and increasing honey production by 50% on the previous year.’
Miss Newsome, who will be taking up a place on the prestigious Kew Diploma in Horticulture in September, happily admits that, one day, she’d like to look after the bees and produce honey for the on-site cafe and restaurants at the capital’s botanical gardens.
‘There are few things better than a full comb of capped liquid gold and the smile on a chef’s face when they receive it, but actually being with the bees is my favourite part of the process,’ she enthuses.
‘After a hard day’s work in the gardens, it forces me to slow down, listen to the bees, work with their rhythm and pay attention to keeping them happy, healthy and productive through the seasons.’
Visit www.bbka.org.uk to learn more about beekeeping.
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