29th August, 2019
Two years ago, Luke told us about making the change from client to volunteer. Now, he writes about setting up his own business.
"I am a keen bee keeper and currently have six colonies and I am gradually expanding. My main responsibility is the welfare of the bees, I complete weekly checks to ensure that the colonies have suitable resources, are healthy (disease free) and use prevention methods to discourage my colonies from swarming (leaving the safety of the hive to find a new home).
Another responsibility of mine is honey extraction. Once the colonies have a large amount of honey stored, I remove the frames full of honey and use a special tool to take the ‘caps’ off. The frames can then be placed into a central fugal honey extractor where the frames are spun until all of the honey is extracted.
I can also swarm collection. This involves rehoming colonies that may have settled in an unsuitable place. I am a member of the WSBKA (West Suffolk Bee Keepers Association). This means that I am registered on a WSBKA database which allows members to provide my details to people in need of help. I often get call outs from people who may have come across a bee swarm on their property and wish for them to be rehomed rather than exterminated.
In my free time I have begun to experiment making products made from the bees wax that is collected, such as beeswax wraps and beeswax furniture polish. I have also researched and made some bee seed bombs which will allow people to spread wild flower seeds that will attract all insects including the honey bee.
I decided to start keeping bees to try and help do my bit as you don’t realise just how much humans and plants depend on the bees. They pollinate flowers and crops meaning a larger diversity of plants grow and a better yield for farmers, which in return helps to put food on our table. I also wanted to help save the bees and give them a home where they can feel safe and be in a friendly environment.
Before I received my first colony of bees, I wanted to learn more about the honey bee and to see if bee keeping was right for me. Therefore, I attended a 10 week ‘Dive into beekeeping’ course for beginners, run by the West Suffolk Bee Keepers Association and held in Hawstead village hall for six weeks. I learnt a lot from those theory sessions and was able to put it into practise in four practical apiary sessions, where I got to experience handling the bees for the first time in small groups. Once I felt more confident about handling the bees and had purchased the necessary equipment, I then went on to purchase two colonies of my own from a local bee farmer who I met through the beekeeping course. Since then, I have expanded to six colonies and have recently sold one colony to a new beekeeper.
When I was a client at Headway Cambridgeshire, I attended an interview skills workshop where I was taught coping mechanisms for managing stress and anxiety e.g. breathing techniques. These coping strategies have helped me to control my emotions during stressful situations, so I don’t become overwhelmed in challenging situations.
One of the challenges I face as a result of my brain injury is short term memory loss, particularly in stressful situations and when attending Headway Cambridgeshire as a client, it was something I wanted to work on. I attended a memory skills workshop run by Headway, that gave me lots of useful techniques to help me break down and remember information. In particular, they emphasised the use of tools to help improve memory and organisational skills. This has been hugely useful in running Luke’s Bees because I use my phone as a tool to record everything such as contacts, notes and events in the calendar just in case I am unable to remember important information.
Taking the step from client to volunteer at Headway Cambridgeshire was a challenge. All of a sudden, I had extra responsibilities and I had to build and manage new relationships with people I had never met. At first this was daunting and I felt anxious. With encouragement, support and the right skills I’d developed during the workshops, I have been able to boost my confidence and have built a wide variety of friendly relationships with both clients and staff. This has helped me to improve my confidence in meeting new people and pursuing new ideas for Luke’s bees."
You can find out more about Luke’s Bees here: https://www.facebook.com/LukesBees1/
“ The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me. ”