Autumn Idle Beekeeping Day


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Autumn Idle Beekeeping Day is a gathering for anyone and everyone interested in bees. There is no need to start beekeeping yourself to enjoy learning about these extraordinary ancient creatures.  This is simply a fascinating day out in gorgeous countryside.

Idle Beekeeper Bill Anderson will teach you the easy way to keep bees if you want to do it. You’ll discover what bees really need and want from their habitat.  And you’ll learn techniques for giving them exactly that. 

Idler beekeepers in the walled garden
Idler beekeepers pottering with the hens in Eastcourt’s orchard apiary

Suitable for both beginners and experienced beekeepers, the Idle Beekeeping Day covers a range of skills, from the best ways to start a hive, to how to make mead. We open up buzzing hives in two different apiaries and we’re shown how to look after bees in three different types of hive – the traditional WBC, the popular National, and the idler’s choice – the Warré.

The Idle Beekeeping Day is a chance to meet, learn and share ideas with both skilled beekeepers and new beekeepers in a bucolic corner of the Wiltshire countryside.

You’ll come away with a firm understanding of the bee and her world. 

The tutors

The Idle Beekeeper Bill Anderson entertains idlers at Port Eliot Festival (photo by Louise Roberts)

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: the idle beekeeper way. 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.’ 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.

Nicola Reed brews up a vat of Beeble honey whiskey

Traditional beekeeper Nicola Reed is the founder of Beeble. She will show us how to keep bees using standard UK equipment. We open up and look inside Nicola’s WBC hives and meet her thriving bee colonies. Nicola will show us all the equipment needed to get started and tell us where to get it from.

Pete Brundell shows idlers how to light a smoker

Bee farmer Pete Brundell will take us on a walk across the fields to one of his large apiaries in nearby woods. He’ll explain how he manages so many hives and he will share his insights on how to keep and maintain a hive.

What will you learn? 

The tutors will be addressing the following questions throughout the day:

• 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?

Suiting up at the Idler Beekeeping Day

The Idle Beekeeping Day Itinerary

Saturday 28th September 2024

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 a beautiful walled garden.

1.30pm – Lunch

2.30pm – Country walk to Pete Brundell’s apiary. Nicola, Bill and Pete point out the flowers that the bees particularly enjoy.

4pm – Honey and mead tasting – We learn why honey comes in different colours, thickness and flavours. Bill show us how to make mead and candles and Nicola reveals Beeble’s honey vodka making secrets.

4.30pm – How to Keep Bees in the City: Bill explains all you need to know about keeping bees in the city. Nicola goes through the equipment we need to keep bees and where to get it from.

5pm – Quiz and Cocktails

5.30pm – Certificates, Gifts and Carriages

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, honey tasting and cocktails.

More about the Idle Beekeeping Day tutors

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 free to leave his hives whenever they feel like it – just like an inn-keeper’s customers. He is the author of The Idle Beekeeper, an instruction book on Idle beekeeping, published by Duckworth in 2019.

Nicola Reed

Nicola Reed runs British bee business Beeble creating artisanal honey spirits and beautiful gifts. Eastcourt House is her home.  She is a traditional beekeeper using WBC hives.


We meet in the gardens of Eastcourt House. Eastcourt 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 if you want to make a weekend of it.

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

If you have any queries, call the Idler on 0203 176 7907. Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 10am-6pm. Alternatively email