Caroline Beacall – our friend and contact at Shugborough

“I moved to Shugborough five years ago from Hanbury Hall where I joined the National Trust in 2004 first as an apprentice, then as a Gardener and a Senior Gardener.”

Caroline busy mowing for us in the apiary

In 2019 I became Shugborough’s first female Head Gardener. I lead a fantastic team and we care for, and manage the Walled Garden and Pleasure Grounds – consisting of Arboretum and formal garden.

Over the next few years Shugborough is going to see lots of changes that will help us conserve the estate whilst opening long dormant areas for our visitors.

I echo Hayley’s comment that this is complex and very varied project (see p2 – January 2022 Newsletter).

Everything at Shugborough is being considered. Saying that, it’s also incredibly exciting, especially with the developments in the Walled Garden where there are already several projects underway.

We’re also working closely with yourselves, SS&DBKA, to ensure that your future apiary is set up with everything you need, and in the interim, providing meeting room spaces, along with facilities at The Kennels apiary (water, electric and toilet facilities) and I will be joining you at your AGM in March with Hayley Mival, our General Manager.

Finally, I’d like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped move the apiary from the Walled Garden to the paddock at The Kennels last year. It is amazing what was achieved.

Best wishes


In the SPOTLIGHT – Membership Secretary – Claire George

Q1. How long have you been a beekeeper?
A. I have been a beekeeper since 2011.

Q2. Why did you become a beekeeper?
A. My neighbour was given some old beekeeping equipment including a beehive which we cleaned up thinking that we could be beekeepers together and help save the bees. My garden was much larger than hers so we placed the hive at the bottom of my garden. We then waited around for a swarm to come and settle in, whilst asking local beekeepers to let us know if one became available. After two years waiting, I lost my patience and decided to buy a nuc of bees for the hive. My neighbour then became a full time mum and I took over.

Q3. What is your favourite bit of beekeeping kit?
A. My hive tool, I use it all around the house as well as on the hives. Most useful bit of kit ever and I now have four of them.

Q4. How many bee suits do you have?
A. I have a suit for every two years of beekeeping, so about 5 now. Also bought two
for my daughter so that she can come and help, although she hates flying insects. Asla gave one to the church warden so that he can strim around the hives at the church.

Q5. What is your proudest beekeeping moment?
A. Winning the best frame of honey at my local honey show.

Q6. Do you have a favourite pair of socks?
A. My favourite socks to wear are the ones that fit around my calves without cutting the blood circulation although these are mostly black as I wear them for work. However my favourite socks for pattern are the ones that look like they are eating my leg.

Q7. Who is your beekeeping hero or heroine?
A. I am not sure that I have a hero beekeeper. I am just impressed with and envious of anyone who manages more than10 hives and keeps them alive year after year. I just don’t have the time.

Q8. What beekeeping disasters have you had?
A. The worst disaster so far was losing my one and only hive to starvation in my second year beekeeping. Learnt a lot since then and haven’t had what I would call a disaster since.

Q9. Which aspect of beekeeping do you like best?
A. I love a nice calm day when I have time just to go and look at the hives, checking that they are in good health and are doing well.

Q10. What is your least favourite beekeeping job?
A. Dealing with an ‘arsy’ colony.

Q11. If you didn’t keep bees, would you be a campanologist or a Morris dancer?
A. I tried to become a Morris dancer when I was a young girl. It was frowned upon then and I decided that I did not want to be the person that had to fight about it. It’s also exhausting and they drink a lot of beer, not my favourite tipple. Therefore, campanologist would be a more suitable.

Q12. What would be your best bit of beekeeping advice?
A. Be patient.

Q13. What would your last meal be?
A. My last meal would have to be one I don’t have to chew cos I expect to live a lot longer than my teeth. Rice pudding always goes down well as long as it has a very nice jam on top.

Q14. What is your favourite bit of a bee?
A. Their tongue is great. I love seeing it out collecting nectar and sugar syrup but hate to see them out in dead bees.

Q15. When you think about your bees, what makes you smile?
A. Thinking about the pollen sacs filled with pollen and them being busy in and out of the hive.

Q16. Do you like honey?
A. I love it and would eat honey all day every day if it wasn’t so fattening!

Q17. What annoys you about bees (apart from the stings)?
A. The way they stick everything together with propolis and how they always manage to get in the way when you close up the hive.

Q18. Do you talk to your bees?
A. I often talk talk to the bees whilst I am with them. When I had them in the garden, I would go and tell them things. Now they are in an out-apiary they get less information and more telling off.

Q19. How often are you asked to stop talking about bees?
A. Strangely, I have never been asked to stop talking about bees and often have strangers ask me questions as soon as they find out that I am a beekeeper. My daughter will laugh at me sometimes when I start talking about them in company.

Q20. Do you prefer sweet or savoury nibbles?
A. I definitely prefer sweet nibbles but will usually eat savoury ones.

Q21. What other interests do you have besides beekeeping?
A. I read (a lot! Mostly fantasy and Sci-Fi), knit, build jigsaws ( I especially like the 3-D ones). play board games (when I can find an opponent), pottering in the garden, watching films and TV series. I also enjoy DIY, using skills that I have learnt over the years and getting to use tools.

Q22. Who would you like to inspect a hive with?
A. I like to inspect hives with anyone, because everyone has a variety of experience and approach. So whether experienced or beginner, I find the different aspects a learning curve.

Q23. What sums up your attitude to bees and beekeeping?
A. I try to be calm and patient as possible at all times but I am still learning as well.

Association AGM 2022

Association AGM
March 24th 2022

It is not long before the Association’s Annual General Meeting takes place at

Shareshill Village Hall on Thursday March 24th at 7.30pm (Covid-19 permitting).
We would like to see as many members as possible at the meeting, so please put the
date in your diary.

This year we will be looking to elect a new President, Chairman, Treasurer and membership secretary to the committee.

If you would like to be considered for any of the above committee positions and want to discuss what the role entails please email: Alan Greenman, Chairman at: for more information.

We will provide training, help and support across all roles to ensure a successful outcome.

The future success of the our club depends on the full commitment of all the members so please consider if you can help by joining the committee for a year.
We will send out nomination forms and more details about the AGM nearer the date.

Additional information is available on the website: AGM


Training, Education and support for beekeepers in 2022

Following the successful move to the new apiary location at Shugborough ‘The Kennels Paddock’, we look forward to all members joining us on Saturday mornings and Thursday nights, commencing in May.  

On a Saturday morning, members are invited to support the apiary working group to undertake weekly inspections.  

Thursday nights will be a mix of social and educational, Covid and weather permitting, where all members will have an opportunity to share their experiences and catch up socially.  

The apiary and education teams will work closely to identify practical demonstrations deemed appropriate or necessary on our colonies and we will arrange subjects for discussion throughout the season.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see covered or you would like to share your experience with other members, please get in touch with us.

Our education offer will continue with ….

Basic Assessment in Beekeeping
open to all who have managed at least one colony of bees for a minimum of 12 months – 6 study group sessions, followed by at least 2 sessions in the apiary before the assessment in July.

Anyone interested, please let us know before the end of January 2022.

Honeybee Health Certificate: open to those who have passed the Basic Certificate and kept bees for at least 3 years – 6 study group sessions followed by at least 2 sessions in the apiary before the assessment in July.

Anyone interested, please let us know before the 28th of February 2022.

General Certificate in Beekeeping Husbandry:  
Are there any members who have passed the Basic Certificate and have at least 5 years of beekeeping experience?  If so, why don’t you consider joining our Beekeeping General Husbandry study group which will run during 2022, for assessment in 2023. 

Study Groups
We will be running BBKA module study groups throughout 2022 based on the demand from members.  Study groups are a really good way of increasing your beekeeping knowledge and you don’t have to undertake the examination at the end.

We are currently running module 1 Honeybee Management, which takes place on the first Monday of the month via Zoom.  If you would like to join this study group or undertake any of education opportunities above, please email Trevor on

If you would like any more information about ways in which you can get more experience of handling bees at the apiary, take part in any of the education offers, or if you would just like to help, please email us at

Stay well and safe 

Alan Greenman 

Out Apiary opportunity…

Hi everybody, I hope you had a good Christmas & a Happy New Year to you.
Is there anyone in the association who is looking for an out apiary site?

The land in question is in Stafford, at the bottom of Lichfield road and it has been purchased to avoid further building & to keep it as a natural area.

The owners would really like someone to use the land, free of charge, to keep bees on.
Anyone interested please contact Stuart Turner via email at:

Kind regards
Charlotte Coleman