Let’s Converge – Bungay Community Bees… in the street, in the café, in the garden

Tuesday was a very exciting day for Bungay Community Bees. But where do I start? In Paul’s garden, with the arrival of a top bar hive in the morning? In the street where Josiah happened upon a swarm in the afternoon? In the Willows café at lunchtime where Gemma, Eloise and I spoke to the Beccles Ladies Probus Club about BCB, our activities and why we do what we do?

Everything seemed to be happening at once in all different places.

So whilst this was going on in the cafe:

Josiah had been alerted by Margaret to a swarm of bees here outside Barclays Bank:

And on our way back home Charlotte and I found him striding with great purpose down the street to find a box so he could transfer the bees into the new top bar hive in Paul’s garden. With no protection save a pair of household gloves. (Oh bee suits where are you when we need you? Well, with one of our four trained beekeepers, of course.)

Josiah knocked lots of bees into the box and set off to Paul’s on foot with Charlotte,  whilst a woman stopped and spoke to me about how some bees had occupied her ladybird house and were sealing up cells. When I caught up, Paul was already making tea and

Josiah was looking for the queen. Was she anywhere to be found? Indeed she was!

And by the way do you have any crushed lemon balm leaves or aloe vera for those stings on Josiah’s head, Mark?

Next step – knocking them in to the top bar hive.

And feathering them.

Elinor arrives complete with bee suit.

The bees check out their (hopefully) new home?

Surely they’ll take to it with all those bee-friendly plants and people around at Paul and Adele’s.

May Day: Give and Grow at Library Community Garden – Celebrations at Geldeston

At Sustainable Bungay’s 2nd Give and Grow day on May Day last Sunday the whole library courtyard garden was burgeoning.

“Whoah! Are those really the licorice mints (anise hyssops) I brought last year for the Plants for Bees bed? The bees will have a field day. My ones at home are a fifth of the size,” I exclaimed to everyone.

It wasn’t just the anise hyssops. Mints and hops, lungwort, miniature daffodils, fruit trees and Greek mountain sage were among the happy plants, testimony to all the work and attention people in Sustainable Bungay, the courtyard group and the library had put in over the past eighteen months.

Jenny showed me a vibrant, bristly plant she had been struck by during a weeding session. She’d left it to grow and it was now in bloom with tiny its bright yellow flowers. “It must have come with the compost,” she said. It was Fiddleneck (Amsinckia), an American relative of borage and comfrey, naturalised here and found on arable land. And it looked great alongside all the other plants in the bed.

Last year, Nick the Community Garden co-ordinator, met Steve, who wanted to clear a surplus of well-rotted chicken manure compost from his smallholding. Steve began receiving regular visits from members of Sustainable Bungay as we collected this amazing compost for the Community Garden (as well as our own!). We still had one or two bags in the shed and when we got home Charlotte put some on our new vegetable and flowers bed. That’ll get the amise hysspos growing!

And what about the Give and Grow? Well between 11 and 1 the courtyard was alive with people exchanging plants and swapping tips on growing, soil, which plants to put where, the different ways to eat the edible ones and what herbs were good as medicines. I’d hesitated to bring aloe vera along, thinking that people were always trying to get rid of it. But the first person I spoke to asked what was good for beestings.

“Well, there’s crushed lemon balm leaf,” I said.
“And aloe,” said Richard.
“Which we have right here,” said Charlotte.

The woman was delighted with the plant. They grow well on a bright kitchen window (they’re greener if kept out of direct sunlight) and are an excellent remedy for minor burns. I gave Elinor one some time ago and she breaks open a leaf whenever she scalds herself in the kitchen!

Among the fruit and vegetable plants were beans, tomatoes, cabbages, rocket, chives, aubergines, anaheim chili, raspberries and strawberries. And the flowers and herbs included alchemilla (lady’s mantle), columbine, houseleek, lily of the valley, masterwort, violets, pink evening primrose, lemon balm, marjoram and yes! anise hyssop. There were also some young and lovely rowan trees.

As Nick said, there is now a permanent Give and Grow stand at the Library Community Garden. Bring along some seedlings or young plants to exchange during normal library hours.

After the Give and Grow we headed from Bungay down the lanes to Geldeston Locks inn. Everywhere was full of may blossom, the sun was shining, and when we arrived the May Day celebrations were in full swing. There was a bit of a chill wind, but the place was packed, the mood was merry, the Morris Dancers danced (Rita told us she’d come to the Locks at 5 in the morning to greet the sunrise with the rest of the group – listen here to the dawn chorus birdsong and pipes recorded by Josiah also up with the larks), the Green Man wove in and out of the crowd, the May queen took the throne and a group of girl dancers twisted a rainbow round the maypole. By Mark Watson

Film nights: The Economics of Happiness and coming soon: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change

In April we came together in the Abbot’s beautiful barn to watch what I felt was a powerful and thought provoking film. I came away from this film with a sense that the balance of power in the world is based upon the great myth that western culture and modern life is better than less intensive alternatives. It is a widely held belief that our capitalist, consumer culture is so special that everyone should have the opportunity to live like us and share our values. However, our mode of living is so intensive that Globalisation is necessary to feed it and the politics of trade so distorted that obscenely wasteful practices are used to implement it.

The film ably demonstrated that far from being our saviour, globalisation is unnecessarily laying waste to not only our planet but our culture and perhaps also our chances of achieving personal happiness. To illustrate this point the film introduces a people known as the Ladakh. Outsiders considered the Ladakh to be backward and their practises primitive yet they were/are a peaceful, harmonious, happy and (crucially) sustainable culture. Few capitalist consumer societies can claim some or indeed any of these qualities.

Personally, I fail to see what exactly it is that we have that is so much better than what the Ladakh have. In many ways I think that the richness of the Ladakh culture and their understanding of both themselves and their environment is superior to our own! Were we so wise, we might find a way to break free of our dependencies on cheap fossil fuels and endless (perhaps pointless) consumerism.

There was a lot of positivity in the film and the Transition movement is cited as one of several examples of Localisation and how it can help us to not only preserve/heal our planet, but also to achieve a sense of personal fulfilment and happiness that is so often lacking in today’s world. We have freedom of choice. We are free to wake up to what is going on and to do something about it. In the words of Bob Marley we can “emancipate ourselves form mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”.(Redemption song).

Next Film Showing: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change

When and Where: Friday 20th May, Bacons Farm, St Michael South Elmham, NR35 1NF at 7.30PM

“Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change” premiered in 2010. Nunavut-based director Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner) and researcher and filmmaker Dr. Ian Mauro (Seeds of Change) have teamed up with Inuit communities to document their knowledge and experience regarding climate change. This new documentary, the world’s first Inuktitut language film on the topic, takes the viewer “on the land” with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. This unforgettable film helps us to appreciate Inuit culture and expertise regarding environmental change and indigenous ways of adapting to it.”

The film documents Inuit people’s knowledge and experience of climate change. Interviews with elders and hunters explored the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. The film sparked a lively discussion; oral history and ancient wisdom clashing with modern scientific methods of observing and measuring a mutating landscape. It was apparent to us all that a dramatically changing environment and lifestyle thousands of miles away will be something we will be facing ourselves before long.

by Eloise Wilkinson

Give and Take Day Report – A Little Late but Here

by Eloise Wilkinson

It was a sunny day (19th March) that started early for me. I was speaking about Give and Take on Radio Suffolk at 6.30am! It was nice to talk to someone so enthusiastic and that enthusiasm carried on for the rest of the day. There were fewer collections to be made prior to the event this time round but the homes we did go to were so grateful. One person remarked “I was just going to take that to the dump”, referring to an unmarked but surplus piece of furniture and was very happy that it would see use again.

Being involved in Give & Take has reminded me that we’ve become used to being able to make our waste someone else’s problem. As a little girl I remember seeing rubbish dumped in riverbeds or by the side of the road in these beautiful picturesque places in the mountains of the south of France. I remember struggling to understand how someone would want to spoil a place so beautiful.

It is necessary to provide a system whereby people can take their unwanted large items to a place, or have them picked up and they can find new homes. Charity shops provide an outlet but are often limited by space or resources.

It never ceases to amaze me how bemused people are when you tell them at a Give and Take day that it is all free. Yes! They can come in and walk out with something, not owe anything to anyone and even save something from landfill! It is liberating, satisfying and slightly scary for some. Money and the act of collecting and spending it takes up so much of our living time that more often than not simply giving up unwanted possessions seems strange.

But it feels so good and so it needs reviving! Next time you need a drop of milk for that cup of tea and you think I’ll just drive down the shop, pop round to your neighbours with a cup, have a chat, get your milk and say “is there anything I can do for you?”

Give and Take is back in the Autumn, clear the decks for the cooler months to come, Saturday 24th September.

See you there!

Plant Exchange is Permanent

Our second Give and Grow Plant Swap took place on Sunday May 1st in the Library Courtyard. There was a splendid array of plants brought in – everything from an olive tree down to a packet of seeds to a pile of jerusalem artichokes. A steady trickle of people came to enjoy the sunshine and ambience in the courtyard, chat, and browse for items to take home for their gardens.

There are still a good quantity of plants left if anyone wishes to (re)visit and take some – any time the library is open. Part of what remains will be donated to stalls at the forthcoming Garden Street Market, and part will remain on the Permanent stall which we hope will encourage the free exchange of plants and produce throughout the year. So if you find yourself with a surplus of anything (soon we might be confident that the risk of frost is over!?) please take it along and leave it on the stand.

Eggless Easter!

Things in the hives seem to be changing at a great rate of knots. There was not one single egg to be seen in any of the five hives this week. Something I never expected to encounter. Thankfully, four of the hives had capped Queen cells in and there may have been a virgin Queen in one of those as well.

However, the good news is that transferring the frame with two Queen cells on last time has resulted in a virgin Queen in that hive, spotted by Pam on her first visit with us! No mean feat considering how small and slim she was, although the classic shape was there. So all is not yet lost….