Anita Rani buzzes about

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TV Times joins Anita Rani in Wilt­shire, where she’s buzzing about a con­test for young bee­keep­ers

Here’s a scene you don’t see ev­ery day – 60 of the world’s finest ju­nior bee­keeep­ers, a swarm of ex­perts scrib­bling on clip­boards – and TV pre­sen­ter Anita Rani in a bee­keep­ing suit.

We’re at Marl­bor­ough Col­lege in Wilt­shire, Kate Mid­dle­ton’s for­mer school, for the In­ter­na­tional Meet­ing of Young Bee­keep­ers 2017. Think of it as a sort of Ju­nior Masterchef meets bees, where young api­arists com­pete in bee­keep­ing tasks.

It’s also the first time the con­test has been held on Bri­tish soil – which is why Coun­try­file has just ar­rived, to cover the ac­tion for this Sun­day’s pro­gramme. ‘It’s an ab­so­lute hive of ac­tiv­ity!’ laughs Anita, 39, as the sound of thrum­ming in­sects fills the air. We asked her to tell us more...

Why is Coun­try­file all abuzz about this event?

It’s a bee­keep­ing con­test for young peo­ple from all over the world, with 19 coun­tries be­ing rep­re­sented, from Is­rael and In­dia to Ger­many and Poland. And it’s per­fect for the show be­cause it’s all about bees. Mar­vel­lous, re­mark­able bees!

What on earth do peo­ple do to com­pete at bee­keep­ing? They’re given dif­fer­ent tasks, and some­body ob­serves and marks

them for each one. You can see who are the stronger con­tenders. Some are very adept and nat­u­ral.

What kinds of tasks do they get? This morn­ing we opened a hive and they had to spot the queen. They all looked like bees to me. They also had to pick out a three-day-old egg and mark a drone [a male bee].

Are there any dif­fer­ences in global bee­keep­ing tech­niques? In other parts of Europe keep­ers don’t have to wear suits, be­cause the bees are docile. Ap­par­ently ours are more likely to at­tack, so hav­ing to kit-up is very new for some of them.

Who are the bright young things of the bee world? Eng­land’s May Smith is a star.

She went into ana­phy­lac­tic shock af­ter a bee sting when she was 11. It dev­as­tated her, but she had im­munother­apy – in­jec­tions to boost the im­mune sys­tem, and now she hasn’t got a prob­lem. Also on Team Eng­land is You­nis Bashir: loves keep­ing bees, hates honey. A bee­keeper who hates honey?

I used to hate it as a kid, ac­tu­ally.

Couldn’t stand the taste.

But now I ab­so­lutely adore it. I’ll of­ten have a spoon­ful if I have a sore throat or a cough.

Coun­try­file’s

So, how are our bees far­ing? They’re hav­ing a hard time. Their nat­u­ral habi­tat is dis­ap­pear­ing. We’ve lost 98% of our wild­flower mead­ows since the 1940s, and three species of bum­ble­bee, yet one in three mouth­fuls of ev­ery­thing we eat is due to pol­li­na­tion. We need to show them some love.

Can any­one keep bees?

I asked some­one to­day if I could keep bees in my small gar­den in Lon­don and ap­par­ently I can. Last year, I met a bee­keeper who kept them on top of one of the tallest ho­tels in New York. So vir­tu­ally any­one can keep bees.

Do you think you’ll take up bee­keep­ing, then? Who knows? Now that I’ve tried it, I can see the ther­apy el­e­ment. There’s some­thing very peace­ful about be­ing in a bee suit. Maybe I’ll pro­duce my own honey. Rani means queen, so Rani Bee Honey sort of makes sense.

Talk­ing of word­play, have the bee puns been fly­ing around to­day? Of course. It’s Coun­try­file! Wait un­til you see the fin­ished prod­uct. I can guar­an­tee there will be at least five mil­lion bee puns.

NEW fac­tual Coun­try­file SUN­DAY / BBC1 / 8.00Pm

Dressed to im­press: John craven in his bird suit Honey mat­ters:

anita

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