BBC Host Becomes A 'Bad Beekeeper' One day, a swarm of bees descended on Bill Turnbull's house outside of London. While the British talk show host huddled inside, a man came with an empty shoebox, enticed the bees inside, topped the lid on the box and strolled off. Bill Turnbull was enthralled and hooked. Host Scott Simon talks with Turnbull about his new book, Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper: What Not to Do When Keeping Bees.
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BBC Host Becomes A 'Bad Beekeeper'

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BBC Host Becomes A 'Bad Beekeeper'

BBC Host Becomes A 'Bad Beekeeper'

BBC Host Becomes A 'Bad Beekeeper'

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One day, a swarm of bees descended on Bill Turnbull's house outside of London. While the British talk show host huddled inside, a man came with an empty shoebox, enticed the bees inside, topped the lid on the box and strolled off. Bill Turnbull was enthralled and hooked. Host Scott Simon talks with Turnbull about his new book, Confessions of a Bad Beekeeper: What Not to Do When Keeping Bees.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

TV, Host:

Bill Turnbull joins us now from BBC in London. Bill, thanks so much for being with us.

BILL TURNBULL: Well, it's my pleasure. Thank you.

SIMON: You say that you tell your wife: I could be off playing golf, you know. So why are you beekeeping and not playing golf?

TURNBULL: Well, beekeeping is a bit cheaper than belonging to a golf club, for starters. I'm not very good at golf. In fact, I don't really like golf at all. And I find beekeeping a much more satisfying, if slightly more painful pastime, in that respect. But I get an enormous amount out of it. It's a terrific antidote for me to - through all the television and broadcast, the pressures, the lights and the studio, and people gabbing in your ear all the time - and I come away from that pressure cooker atmosphere and go on and open up a beehive. And my mind is completely wiped clear by the concentration that I have to put into looking into this city of bees.

SIMON: Well, let me put it this way: How many times have you been stung?

TURNBULL: When I started off, I was getting this stung may be six to eight times a season. This year though, so far, fingers crossed, I have barely been stung at all apart from one very, very sensitive place, which probably doesn't bear talking about on NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

TURNBULL: If you didn't get stung by bees, it'd be like keeping flies. And what would be the point in that?

SIMON: Like when you see a swarm of these days, it's not sinister to you?

TURNBULL: You might get stung if they smack into you accidentally. But, by and large, you'd be pretty safe.

SIMON: Do you even like honey that much?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

TURNBULL: But, yeah. No, I enjoy it.

SIMON: Is it harder to keep bees these days?

TURNBULL: But because of the dastardly Varroa mite, which is becoming a global concern, is spread everywhere. And it carries diseases which do for those bees in a number of different ways. And we've all got it and it's become resistant to some of the medicines that we treat them with, it's become a much more complicated business keeping that under control. And the consequences for beekeepers on an industrial scale have been, as you know - in the United States - disastrous.

SIMON: Bill, in the end, what's satisfying about beekeeping?

TURNBULL: And it is actually giving something back to the environment. And so much of what we do takes away, it's nice to be able to do just a little thing to redress the balance.

SIMON: Why do you call yourself a bad beekeeper? I mean I - off-hand you strike me as extremely conscientious.

TURNBULL: Well, I try to be, but beekeeping is something which requires devotion and dedication and concentration and time, and these are all things which in my case can be in slightly short supplied. You're supposed to take notes, for instance, every time you go into the colonies and check on their progress and I don't do that. And you're supposed to be neat and tidy, and I don't do that. And you're not supposed to give them extra space within the hive that they can fill up with pollen and wax and honey, and I don't do that. So I end up with the most almighty mess of bees and wax and just general glue, which takes an awful lot of tidying up. So if you see what I mean, I'm not exactly the world's tidy person, and that doesn't help you be a good beekeeper.

SIMON: Bill, good luck to you and your hive.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I don't think I've ever said that to another guest.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: Bill, thanks so much

TURNBULL: You're most welcome.

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