Meet the Fife beekeeper and his hive of activity

Brian Holmes - Aberdour beekeeper at his home  - April2019
Brian Holmes - Aberdour beekeeper at his home - April2019

There is a question mark over whether Albert Einstein actually said that if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years of life left.

Whether it was the man himself, or, as some claim, actually from a US beekeepers’ magazine from the 1940s, the fact that it is true makes the preservation of the humble honey bee a very important role indeed.

Brian Holmes - Aberdour beekeeper at his home  - April2019

Brian Holmes - Aberdour beekeeper at his home - April2019

And for one bee enthusiast from Aberdour, he’s doing exactly that.

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The end product - a pot of honey made by Brian's bees.

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A little over 12 months ago Brian Holmes, waved farewell to a 40-year career as a chief engineer in the marine industry and a job that took him around the world to focus on his ever-growing passion for beekeeping.

What began as a hobby influenced by a longtime beekeeping friend has in just three years blossomed into a fully fledged obsession.

“My friend Mike Taddei was a renowned Fife beekeeper of over 50 years and a mentor to me from day one,” the 61-year-old told the Press.

“I decided, after helping Mike with his hives, to get one of my own, but after visiting the bee tent at the Highland Show it was advised I actually get two, in order to better preserve the colony within.

“I took a course in beekeeping run by Dunfermline & West Beekeepers Society and it’s safe to say I caught the bug

“Now I have 28 hives and it’s become a major passion, taking up much of my spare time. But I’m not complaining –I love it, and them.”

Certainly, beekeeping is no casual pass time. Having spent around £8000, to be a keeper requires dedication and hard work to protect those hives and that investment.

Incredibly, each hive is home to around 50,000 bees and with a young queen bee able to lay between 1000-2000 eggs per day during the early season, that’s a rapidly expanding collection.

“Obviously, what I do is small fry compared to the big commercial keepers who have 3,500 hives, or the biggest US guys that have around 100, 000,” Brian said.

“But I’m doing my bit and without bees we’d have no pollination. What they do is crucial to our survival.”

Brian’s hard work does, however pay a dividend when it comes to honey production.

“Everything is weather dependent but with the right conditions I could get 100-150Ib of honey from one hive,” he explained.

“You will achieve different types of honey by positioning bees close to various crops, such as rape. My own favourite is heather honey, the best in my opinion, and tastes fantastic.”

With hives situated in his garden and two other locations, Brian eventially aims to expand to 40 hives.

“That’s a lot of bees and a lot of work, that’s enough for me,” he added.