Highclere Behind the Scenes: Mike the Beekeeper


– [Narrator] Viking’s
almost family connection to Highclere Castle has
given me the opportunity to get to know some of
their trusted staff. One I’m always happy to see is
Mike Withers, the beekeeper. (zipper zips) – I live very close to the Highclere Park, so I don’t have far to
travel to visit my bees. (bees buzzing)
(soft music) Bees have been kept in this park for quite a few years now, because it’s a good yielding plot. A lot of people think that
bees are a horrible thing, a horrible insect, but they’re not. As long as there’s plenty
for the work bees to do, you can stand there by the hive and you’ll see ’em going in and out, in and out, and they don’t even say, what are you doing? (laughs) What we normally do, we carry a smoker. We give ’em a little puff of smoke, which quietens ’em. You can lift the frames
out and look at them and do what you like with them. – [Narrator] Even without smoking, the bees are pretty gentle creatures, so I was able to peer inside a hive without a protective suit. – You often see a lot of beekeepers with short-sleeve
shirts, no gloves at all, and an open-neck shirt and no veil. As long as there’s plenty
for the bees to do, they’re just more interested
in working. (laughs) It was round about 1952
we did a project on bees and that gave me the bug. It’s fantastic, it really is fantastic. And the more you get into it, the more you just can’t leave it alone. People that say I bought
some of your honey and you made a good job of it. I didn’t make a good job of it, the bees did it, not me. I only bottled it. Lady Carnarvon, she is
very, very understanding as to what we need. Even Lady Carnarvon’s father-in-law, he was very, very much in conservation. You don’t get no bickerin’ in a beehive. The only time that you see two bees fight is if one bee tries to
get in the wrong hive. If he’s loaded with honey, you let ‘im in. And then they kill him. (laughs) – [Narrator] I hope you’ll do as I did and spend time exploring the wonders of Highclere Castle for yourself.

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