Summer Beekeeping Day, with Bill Anderson and Nicola Reed

Saturday 18th May

Unit price


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

This 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.  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. It is also a chance to meet and share ideas with other beekeepers in a gorgeous setting.   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.

Traditional beekeeper Nicola Reed will show us how to keep bees using standard UK equipment. We will look inside Nicola’s pretty WBC hives at thriving bee colonies. We’ll learn how to handle frames heavy with wax, honey and bees. Nicola will show us all the equipment we need to get started and tell us where to get it from.

Urban beekeeper Bill Anderson will teach us how to keep bees the idle way with minimum interference. 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,’ 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.

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 18 May 2019

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 the beautiful walled garden.

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.

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 12 May to Sunday 13 May 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