A TAUNTON GP who was stung into action during lockdown has earned the UK's highest beekeeping qualification.

Dr Richard Bache has kept bees for 22 years, but admitted deciding to study for the National Diploma in Beekeeping was "a moment of lockdown madness".

He followed a broad syllabus ending with an exam, including a theory paper and dissertation, the preparation of botany and entomology portfolios, followed by an all-day practical assessment covering colony handling, botany, anatomy and disease, and a viva voce.

Dr Bache said: "To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what possessed me.

"But I relished the challenge of taking my beekeeping to the next level - having a more in-depth knowledge of beekeeping practice, understanding the place of the honey bee in the broader environment and refining my bee husbandry skills beyond the Master Beekeeper level."

He added: "Beekeeping is a fantastic opportunity to witness and learn about one of nature’s most incredible creations."

Another successful Somerset examinee is Lynne Ingram, a retired psychologist from East Huntspill, who been keeping bees for almost 40 years.

She said: "For me taking the NDB was the next challenge after becoming a Master Beekeeper.

Somerset County Gazette:

Lynne Ingram.

"I’ve broadened and deepened my beekeeping knowledge generally, learnt so much more about insects other than honey bees and their role in pollination, as well as studying botany in greater depth, and immersing myself in the latest apicultural research."

The NDB started in 1954 and there have been only 94 successful candidates over the intervening years.

Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has four members with the qualification – in addition to Richard and Lynne, they are Simon Jones and Patrick Rich.

Lynne added: "Beekeeping is absolutely fascinating and you never stop learning."