Bee keeping is becoming big business again. These little insects give so much to humanity so there are plenty of positives to being an apiarist. Nick Mosley finds out what the buzz around bee keeping is all about and how anyone with an interest in the subject can get involved.

HOBBY beekeeping is buzzing like never before as more enthusiasts take up a pastime that helps boost crop production and creates delicious honey.

Now a Sussex vineyard is offering a beginners’ experience in running honeybee hives, something organisers say can be done from an urban backyard as easily as a country garden.

Membership of the British Beekeepers’ Association has soared threefold to 25,000 in the past ten years as awareness grows of bees’ importance to the food chain because of their role in pollinating plants.

The vast majority of these beekeepers are non-professionals.

There is also an increasing interest in locally grown produce.

A typical hive makes 25 jars of honey a year, with each colony producing its own distinctive flavour, based on where the bees forage.

The events at Albourne Estate near Hurstpierpoint are run by Hiver Beers, a craft brewery specialising in honey beer, and hosted by Kew Gardens horticulturist and part-time beekeeper Amy Newsome.

Amy says that beekeeping is safe – so long as owners take certain precautions – and is a sustainable way to produce food, when done properly, and fun.

During the two hours Amy explains what it is like to keep bees – demonstrating using an empty hive – and the history of beekeeping.

The group then dons protective clothing and enters the apiary for a hands-on inspection of the hives.

“I pass around frames of bees and talk through what we are seeing and how to spot the queen bee,” says Amy.

It ends with a food-matching tasting of Hiver honey beer.

Anyone looking to take up beekeeping can get help from local associations that offer training and mentors.

Start-up costs are about £500 and honeybees are fairly self-sufficient.

In warmer weather they need tending every seven to ten days for 20 to 45 minutes, with less in winter.

A hive only requires a two metre squared space, so the hobby can be enjoyed in towns or the countryside.

An urban environment with parks and gardens can provide bees with a wider variety of sources of nectar and pollen.

Bees have been providing humans with a source of natural sweetener for thousands of years – the ancient Egyptians farmed bees for honey.

Amy says that beekeeping helps people connect with nature.

“It’s a great way to see how the natural world influences the food you eat,” she says.

Book your place on a £46 Hiver beekeeping and beer tasting experience at