How beekeeping helped me get a placement

By: Caitlin Allison

Hi, my name is Caitlin and I’m currently starting my fourth year of my biochemistry course, having just recently completed my placement year. I’ve been elected welfare officer for BeeSoc for three years now and my love for beekeeping continues to grow.

Why did I join BeeSoc?

When I started university in September 2019, I found it especially difficult to make friends as I was a commuting student and didn’t find myself in the likes of student halls to create those initial friendships with ease, I talked to my tutor and my peer mentor, whom was a fellow commuting student, about my worries. They both suggested I should join a society.

I had a look at the NUSU societies and clubs section on their website and was initially struggling to find one to join; I’m not good at sports, I wouldn’t risk eating food I had baked, and I’m not talented enough to play an instrument without making my ears bleed!! I saw BeeSoc and saw it was a cheap membership fee of £5 and impulsively purchased it- I’ve never done beekeeping before.

What have I learned from BeeSoc?

Throughout my time as a member, I quickly learnt techniques I thought I’d never pick up:

  • Making reusables beeswax food wraps and beeswax candles
  • In depth knowledge of bees and beekeeping
  • Performing my own hive check
  • Ways to notice if a bee is diseased, and the appropriate measures to prevent infection spreading
  • Efficient ways to harvest honey (yes- free honey from Campus)
My very first time handling a beehive, how exciting!

How do I maintain my beekeeping skills while I’m doing placement?

I never thought I’d stick with beekeeping and was initially worried when starting my placement year as a Dose Analysis Intern at Labcorp Drug Development, Harrogate, that I’d lose all skills associated with beekeeping as I was located so far away from the apiary at Newcastle University. I got in contact with the local Harrogate and Ripon Beekeeping Association to see if I could keep my skills in practise and doing extra volunteering work at the RHS garden at Harlow Carr, they said yes. People are really happy to see young people involved in beekeeping and conservation work, and there’s more apiaries in your local area than you initially may think, this can potentially be a hobby for life!

Why should you do beekeeping?

Well, half way through my placement year I remember discussing with my manager and supervisor, as to why they chose me as a suitable candidate for my intern role. They said, they liked the quirky side to beekeeping as they’ve never met a beekeeper before which made me stand out. Even though I may not have had all the chemistry knowledge in the world for my job role, through beekeeping I acquired some skills which demonstrated my ability to learn and communicate with a team, an important aspect as every job role comes with training. An employer can teach you the knowledge, but you require the ability to learn.

I would definitely recommend beekeeping to anyone who hasn’t done it before and is looking for a new hobby!

Click the link below to find out more about BeeSoc and how to join!

Caitlin is a BSc. Biochemistry student with a Professional Placement Year.

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