Autumn Beekeeping Day with the Idle Beekeeper Bill Anderson

idle beekeeping
Detail from Der Bienenfreund (friend of the bees) by Hans Thoma, 1863
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This day in a lovely English country garden will teach you everything you need to know to start beekeeping, either in the country or in the city.  If you are already an apiarist this is a chance to look at the Warré hive system, which Idle Beekeeper Bill Anderson uses on his tiny slither of city roof. It is also a chance to meet and share ideas with other beekeepers in a gorgeous setting.   Beginners will learn how to harvest and how to use honey and we’ll have lessons on how to make mead, candles and honey whiskey.

Traditional beekeeper Nicola Reed keeps her bees in pretty WBC hives. Nicola will show us how to keep bees using standard UK equipment. We will look inside Nicola’s pretty WBC hives at thriving bee colonies. We’ll learn how to handle frames heavy with wax, honey and bees. Nicola will show us all the equipment we need to get started and tell us where to get it from. Nicola is the founder of Beeble, making honey whiskey and other honey products.

Urban beekeeper Bill Anderson is author of The Idle Beekeeper, The Low Effort, Natural Way To Raise Bees. He will teach us how to keep bees with minimum interference. Bill uses Warré hives and a unique insulation technique. He’ll talk about the life cycle of the bee and how it makes honey. Bill says, ‘Anyone who can sort of put up a shelf can make their own hive,’ and he will be glad to show you how. You’ll leave with designs for a flat pack Warré hive kit to take to your local timber merchant to cut, and the skills to put it together.

Bee farmer Pete Brundell will also be teaching and you will open a hive with a member of the British Beekeeper’s Association. There are four teachers for a total group no bigger than sixteen.

In the afternoon Bill will teach us how to make mead and candles. Nicola will reveal how to make honey whiskey.  There will be a quiz test over cocktails and Idler Certificates of Completion.

The day takes place at Eastcourt House, a 17th century manor with beautiful walled gardens near Malmesbury in Wiltshire.

The Idler Academy bee day is suitable for absolute beginners, for people who are simply interested even though they are unlikely to keep bees,  and also for practising beekeepers who would like to get together with other beekeepers and exchange ideas in a beautiful setting with delicious food.  Previous idle beekeeping students are encouraged to reconvene.

We will answer practical questions including:

• How much time, money and space does beekeeping require?
• Where should you put a hive, and what about neighbours?
• What equipment do you need and where do you find your bees?
• How do you handle bees and how do you harvest the honey?


Nicola Reed by her WBC hives


Sunday 12th September 2021

10am Start – Coffee and introductions

10.30am – Bill Anderson gives an introduction to the bee, its life cycle and the home it really wants.

12.00 – Inside a hive: Nicola Reed shows how to open up a hive. This is a chance to handle the bees and look into Eastcourt’s WBC hives set in the beautiful walled garden.

1.30pm – Lunch

2.30pm – How to make mead and candles: Bill and Nicola give a practical workshop

3.3opm – Nicola reveals her honey whiskey making secrets and takes us on a tour of Eastcourt’s garden with flowers that the bees particularly enjoy.

4.30pm – How to Keep Bees in the City: Urban beekeeper Bill Anderson shows us how to build a Warré hive.

5pm – Quiz, Cocktails and Certificates

5.30pm – Carriages

If you would like to make a weekend of this event we encourage you to stay at the The Rectory Hotel a couple of minutes away or make a treat of it and stay at Whatley Manor which is a little further away.

Please note the itinerary may change and is dependent on the weather for the outside hands-on sessions and opening of hives.


The day includes coffee, lunch, tea, home baked treats and Beeble honey whiskey cocktails.


Beekeeper Bill Anderson at Port Eliot festival, photo by Louise Roberts

Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson is a writer, TV drama director and author of The Idle Beekeeper, The Low Effort, Natural Way To Raise Bees.  After installing some purchased bees in a Warré hive on the tiny sliver of horizontal roof atop his West London home, over the last three years Bill has enticed four wild swarms to move into Warré hives.  This hive system strives to emulate the bees’ natural habitat in the wild – a cavity in a tree – whilst also making some accommodation for human sweet teeth.

Bill prefers to think of himself as more of a hive-keeper than a beekeeper – the bees are always free to leave his hives whenever they feel like it – just like an inn-keeper’s customers.

Nicola Reed

Nicola is an artist and runs a successful company making Beeble honey whiskey. Eastcourt House is her home.  She is a traditional beekeeper using WBC hives.

Location: Eastcourt House is easily accessible via the M4, and is just two hours from London. All our talks and meals will take place at the house. There are plenty of nice places to stay locally on the Saturday night.

Eastcourt House

Local places to stay:

The Rectory Hotel, Crudwell –

The Old Bell, Malmesbury –

The Snooty Fox, Tetbury –

Luxury hotel and spa a little further away: Whatley Manor, Easton Grey –


Or any B&B in Crudwell (two miles away) or Eastcourt. For instance:

Best place to eat locally:

The Potting Shed, Crudwell

Price: £160

Including coffee, lunch, home baked treats, tea and cocktails

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