Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hi. I'm Madeleine, and I'm here at Battle Abbey in East Sussex. Which is where William the Conqueror, beat King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, in 1066. And now more than 950 years later. it's also where bees are kept I'm going to talk to Graham the head beekeeper to find out more Hi, Graham Hi, Madeleine. Why are bees important to us? Bee, along with many other insects, are used for pollination. For crops, what we eat. And for flowers. What does a beekeeper do? The beekeepers job is to look after the hive. Make sure they're safe. Take the honey off when it's ready. Make sure there is no disease in the hive. And just generally look after the bees. During the summer A full hive could have over 30,000 bees. How do you collect the honey? Honey is collected usually at the end of June. July, when the bees have got an excess of honey. We never take it all off and we just take the box away. Put it into a spinner which spins round around, round very fast, which sprays all the honey out. Do all bees make honey? There's 240 species of bees and wasp in this country. But it's only the honey bee that makes enough honey for us to take away the excess. One bee alone will make less than a teaspoonful of honey in its lifetime. But the whole box of honey could be at least 10 pounds Was keeping bees popular in the past when royalty had big houses? It was very popular and the aristocracy and royalty used to pay other people to look after bees for them because it was a luxury food. Bees were kept in the walled garden like this one to pollinate all the flowers and the fruit and the vegetables that were in the garden. What did they use the honey for? For sweetening their foods and for medicinal purposes, like putting onto wounds and sores. Did they use different beekeeping equipment in the past? Very similar to what we use nowadays, but a lot more basic. They would have a very basic mask like a bag that they put over their head so their faces wouldn't get stung. They would keep an old bunch of reeds as a smoker, whereas we have proper smokers nowadays. We fill it up with old egg boxes to light it, and then we use wood pellets as the fuel to make it smoke. Once the egg boxes are alight, you put the fuel on and then that creates the smoke. How does the smoke keep the bees calm? Because they think everything is on fire. So they go back to their stores and collect all their honey, fill their tummies up And they're all happy. Like you after a Christmas dinner. All we want to do is sleep. What's a skep? A skep is a straw basket that they used to keep the bees in. They would get the swarm of bees and put it in there with the sticks across so they could make all the brood and wax in there. They can put extra baskets on and gradually gets bigger and bigger. And then the top one will have a mesh that the queen can't get through. but the workers can, and they will fill this one up with just the honey not the larvae. So when you wanted the honey, you could take that away, put a new one on top to refill the new one and you got the honey to take away. How do you stop yourself from getting stung? You don't really, you're not a beekeeper unless you have been stung. Just keep it calm and the bees will stay calm. What can people do to help the bees? They can plant bee friendly flowers that will entice the bees to the garden. They could put little nest boxes up, not use weed killers and harmful sprays on their plants and the flowers. Without bees we would never have food because we've got no insects to pollinate all our food for us. So we need them. They're important to us. I think bees are brilliant. If you want to come see the bee hives here yourself. Come and visit the Walled Garden at Battle Abbey. You can find out more on the English Heritage website. Bye!