Autumn Beekeeping Day, with Bill Anderson, Nicola Reed, and Pete Brundell

Saturday 6th October

Unit price


Detail from Der Bienenfreund (friend of the bees) by Hans Thoma, 1863

Fancy keeping bees but can’t commit a lot of time? How does a few hours twice a year sound? Come and learn the ethical and practical fundamentals of Idle beekeeping: the Idle Hive and how to manage it, getting started with your bees, harvesting honey and making mead. This Autumn 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.

For a beekeeper Autumn is the time for bottling freshly harvested honey, making mead and melting down wax for candles. Generally you would be preparing your bees for the winter. If you haven’t kept bees before this is the time to learn and prepare for the Spring ahead when you will settle in your first colonies, and idle Beekeeper Bill Anderson will be helping you on your way.

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. 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. If you are one of our Summer Beekeeping Day Idlers you can use this day to see what is going on inside a hive in the Autumn and remind yourself of what you should be doing now.  And simply this is a chance for anyone who is interested in bees to meet and share ideas with beekeepers in a gorgeous setting.

Traditional beekeeper Nicola Reed will show us how to keep bees using standard UK equipment. We will look (weather dependent) inside Nicola’s pretty WBC hives at thriving bee colonies. Nicola will show us all the equipment we need to get started and tell us where to get it from.

Urban beekeeper Bill Anderson teaches how to keep bees the idle way with minimum interference. He uses Warré hives and a unique insulation technique that he’ll show you how to make. 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.

Commercial beekeeper Pete Brundell is a man who looks after millions of bees everyday.  He is generous with his expertise and advise and is always happy to help find bees for our beginners to get started with.

In the afternoon Bill will teach us how to make mead and candles. Nicola will reveal how to make honey whiskey.

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


Saturday 6 October 2018

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 and Pete Brundell 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. Note if the weather is cold or raining we will not be able to open the hive but will talk you through this instead.

1pm – Lunch

2pm – How to make mead and candles: Bill and Nicola give a practical workshop in Eastcourt’s stunning kitchen.

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.

6pm – Cocktail hour

7pm – 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. We’ll reconvene on Sunday morning at 11am for coffee and to have another chance to open up a hive and look at the bees at Eastcourt House.

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 Hendrick’s cocktails.


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

Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson is a TV drama director and writer.  After installing some purchased bees in a Warre 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 Warre 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…Bill is currently writing a book on Idle beekeeping to be published by Duckworth in 2019.

Nicola Reed

Nicola is an artist and runs a successful company making Bees Knees Honey Whiskey. Eastcourt House is her home.  She is a traditional beekeeper using WBC hives.

Pete Brundell

Pete is a commercial beekeeper in Oxfordshire supplying many different outlets and companies. He manages around thirteen different apiaries around the country.

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 –

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


Saturday including coffee, lunch, and tea – £120

Children under 14 are welcome at £55 each: call the Idler on 0207 176 7907 to book.  Please email with queries and to book children.



Saturday 6th October 2018


Saturday 10am-7pm


Eastcourt House, Near Malmesbury, Wiltshire


Maximum of 14


Beekeeping starter pack, coffees, lunch, homebaked treats, tea, cocktails

To Book

Add to basket, Or call the Idler Academy on 0203 176 7907


£120, £55 child under 14.


Write a review