About Mr. GlastonBees

Hello! How are you today? Since you are here, I guess your here to know a little more about Mr. GlastonBees, am I right?

Well, beginning at the basics, GlastonBees is founded and run by Ian Glastonbury, and that’s me. My aim is to help and nurture yOUR environment and to do this by helping the birds and bees, No… not that story.

A little about Ian Glastonbury

Talking with a beekeeping association

Talking with a beekeeping association

To learn a bit about me, let’s not start at my birth, otherwise this will be a very long story and I know you are busy. So no boring bio bits, promise… I’m taking relevant snippets of my life and we will start at the age of 7 or 8 years old (ish).

My family went on a day trip to Wentwood Forest in South East Wales. It was that bright white midday summer sunshine we rarely see in Wales and I had spent hours having exuberant, athletic fun on the outdoor activity playground. Do you remember those; climbing frame, rope bridge, monkey bars, lots of pokey wood-chips to fall into underfoot?

It wasn’t long afterwards, when my mother heard an almighty scream (she knew immediately that scream came from my young lungs) and saw young me running towards her. The cause of my high-pitched distress? A fly had flown into my ear and got stuck; it was flapping around and caused lots of distress to all involved, (my mum, the fly and me, of course). This situation put an almighty fear that any kind of fly, bee or even spider that could potentially get stuck in my ear again (although why spider I don’t know). I can tell you this fear took some work to get over.

Now we skip forward to the age of 16 (better than the films, isn’t it?). I left school and a few months later, I packed my kit bag and joined the British Army. Somehow I ended up in 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards as a Tank Driver. I served for 4 years and 14 days (not sure how many hours or minutes exactly but I did leave at 1300hrs or 1pm if you are not 24 hour clock savvy). There was some considerable time spent in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Operational Tours. During my time in the Army, there were lots of occasions spent using tanks and weapons which caused destruction to the environment. However I always seemed to find the time to appreciate the scenery and wildlife; I knew then, that this lifestyle wasn’t for me.

So we move on with the story to when I was 26 years old. I began a new job, which was very different to what I was used to.  I was now a Community Centre Support Worker based in a Community Centre in Newport, South Wales.
This was initially very challenging but I grew into it well, (I believe so anyway). During this time I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This was due to certain events from my past. Luckily my boss was wonderful and she really helped me through some extremely tough times by giving me space and support.  Her belief in me and the fantastic opportunities provided were instrumental in my journey.

One of these opportunities was to organise and lead a local community gardening group. This involved setting up a timetable of events, organising talks and visits, facilitating and teaching some workshops myself, and not forgetting finding local residents to attend. There were courses that I attended on topics like Permaculture and I got involved in the Transition Towns movement in Cardiff. Huge shifts in my beliefs were happening. In fact it felt like I had gone from a destructor of the environment to a protector and it felt sooooo amazing.

Helping communities enhance their own environment was something I was great at, I gained an enthusiastic and ongoing active interest in all aspects of the environment. It became a catalyst, igniting a passion for me to do more for Mother Nature.

So I began to practise what I preached… At home we began to grow some of our own food, eventually we got some little helpers in the garden in the way of worms who lived in Wormwood Scrubs (our wormery), we had 4 chickens who lived in a hen house and run that I constructed myself and some Honey Bees who lived nearby on an allotment.

Now then I just mentioned Honey Bees (do keep up!). This was a very difficult transition period for me. I remember all too well that afternoon in Wentwood and certainly do not want a repeat performance. My partner at that time wanted to keep Honey Bees. Eventually… I agreed (dragged most probably) to attend a beekeeping course with the Cardiff Vale and Valleys Beekeeping Association.

With the National Beehive

I was defensive, apprehensive and anxious but something was keeping my mind open that night. To be completely honest, after the first night it was fascinating. My brain was struggling to comprehend what these little Honey Bees do in their lives, but I was enthralled. Every evening of the course my hand was up to ask more questions. Don’t get me wrong, there were still bad memories and misplaced fears telling me to stop but I didn’t want to, the Honey Bees had me hooked.

As part of the course we were mentored by an experienced Beekeeper who took us to their colonies to show us why, what and how to do it. I had all the clothing required and even checked it many times to ensure that no Honey Bee was getting inside my suit! I had to go against everything that my body was telling me to do, which was walk, well OK, run away. Once the roof came off the hive there was an overload on my senses.

I looked inside, it was amazing, Honey bees busily moving pollen around and they were not bothered by a giant (to them anyway) clumsy man dressed in white who was moving their internal walls around.

The smell that arose from within these four walls was lovely, the heat was gentle but noticeable and the noise that the colony made drowned out all other outside noises and something inside me began to believe that I was thankful that I was experiencing this.
We eventually got own colony of Honey Bees and they had such a calming effect on me. Granted I had to consciously remain calm but over time I grew to enjoy spending the short amount of time required with them.