Beekeepers in training in North London for a sweet future

�The Jewish community of north London has come up with an ingenious way to help the environment by committing to become self-sufficient in that sweetest of commodities – honey.

Honey is eaten at Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – to symbolise the hope for a “sweet year” ahead and the Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC), along with residents and groups, plans to set up bee hives in north London so that every Jewish family can have a pot of sustainable honey within five years.

The Jewish Bee Project is sending future beekeepers on courses to set up their own beehives in back gardens and other private areas, but it will take 200 hives for the aim to be realised. Part of the project is to create a generation of people learning to keep bees, but first they have to be trained.

Deena Kestenbaum, a mother of four from Finchley, is being trained through a funded place on a Capital Bee training course.

The course is run at Camley Park in King’s Cross which Mrs Kestenbaum describes as a “little, extraordinary oasis”. “I absolutely adore it,” she said. “Once you go into detail, you realise the astonishing nature of nature.”

At the end of the process Mrs Kestenbaum will be given her own colony of bees to tend although her daughter has threatened to move out if she brings them home. Luckily the JCC may design a bee-space in their new multi-million pound building on Finchley Road.

Kevin Sefton is the only person in the project to have kept bees before and will help co-ordinate the hives.

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He said: “Over the course of five years we will build up the number of hives – five, 12, 24, upwards, and then 200 hives would give everyone a pot of honey for the Jewish New Year in September. It is something that has relevance to the Jewish community but is not a religious thing.”

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