Calling All Bungay Community Bee members for 2014!

Bungay Community Bees is 5 years old!

 

With the advent of Spring we are getting ready for the beekeeping year ahead. Now is the perfect time to join, for this year in celebration of our fifth anniversary there is no membership fee. But we are still looking for members to join our BCB community.

We have had some changes to our ‘core’ group recently which means we are looking for people to take on some of the more active roles. There are several ways in which BCB can take the project strands (Plants for Bees, Education and Outreach, Beekeeping, Hive Building) forwards, it just needs a little enthusiasm and time from the community. So please don’t be shy!

The group has changed somewhat over the years. From the Community Supported Agriculture model we began with we have developed a more educational bent. This has occurred partly in response to our own growing awareness of the wider issues impacting upon bee survival and partly due to forging links with others and the opportunities that have since arisen.

We do have several colonies of bees this spring as they all survived the winter, and hope to collect some honey in a couple of months.

Our major project of 2013 was the educational school visits in association with Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and Featherdown Farms. These visits will begin again in a few weeks. There is a blog on the SB website outlining what we did along with some pictures and a number to contact for bookings, including for this year.

The other major project we would like to run this year is Bungay Beehive Day. After an initial brainstorming session we have come up with some great ideas, but need some bodies to take on some of the organising. We can make it as comprehensive as volunteers allow.

So, if you would like to get involved in any of the following ways please get in touch:

* Become a member for the year (no fee this year!), the membership form is on the BCB page of the website. Please email bees@sustainablebungay.com with any queries or contact me on 07791 495 012

* Get involved with Bungay Beehive Day 2014 (5th anniversary!), i.e. helping with stalls, speakers, plants, publicity

*Assisting with school visits at College Farm (Thursday mornings beginning late May, expenses paid)

* Workshops with schools, possibly to create some large artworks to display at Beehive Day

* Become secretary for BCB, arranging meetings and co-ordinating the group socially

* Train to become a BCB beekeeper, either with Waveney Valley Beekeepers (conventional hives, lots of bee experience and support; mostly evenings) or with the Natural Beekeeping Trust (top bar hives with minimal intervention; 2 days Sussex). This will be funded by BCB on the understanding you subsequently keep bees for the group. First come, first booked basis.

* Take any of the project strands forwards

* Share your fabulous ideas!

 

Finally, we now have a facebook page, search for bungaycommunitybees and ‘like’ us to see photo’s and get notifications of blog posts and events.

I also have a personal twitter account @ElinorBees, which is bee oriented, as is Mike Southerns @JoinerBee, he is one of our beekeepers and our hive designer.

All the best

Elinor McDowall

Dye Garden Opening – Saturday 22nd March, 10am

7dfc654090e92e065b330ee51ff66b6dThere will be an informal opening and introduction to The Dye Garden on Saturday 22nd March, at 10am, just before Sustainable Bungay’s annual Give and Take Day. This will mark the beginning of the Library Community Garden season of events, which will include workshops and talks about the dye and fabric plants that are being showcased this year in the central bed, as well as our regular seed, plants and produce swaps in May and October.

Some of the plants are already making their appearance, so if you would like to have a look round and hear about this year’s new project do swing by the Garden tomorrow. All welcome! Charlotte Du Cann

Image: plant material and the colours they yield for Dine (Navajo) fabrics inĀ  South West USA

 

College Farm Education Apiary

Our big project last year was the initiation of educational visits for schools in conjunction with Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and Featherdown Farms. A purpose built apiary was created at College Farm, Aldeby, a fantastic spot leading down to the broads. It’s primarily aimed at local schools but can be used for other groups as well. To date we have hosted 7 primary schools, the Anglia Regional Co-operative store managers and members of Sustainable Bungay, who cycled out on car free day.

The apiary itself consists of an observation shed overlooking several different types of hives and, at it’s heart, a hand-crafted glass hive actually sited within the shed. Because it’s indoors the children can see the bees up close and personal in any weather. One of their favourites seems to be the glass tubes connecting the body of the hive to the entrance. It’s really easy to see the bees carrying in pollen and even fighting wasps off.

Bees in entrance tube

 

Observation hive nearly ready for bees

 

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Desperately hoping our lovingly crafted glass observation hive would work well with bees living in it we started a colony off in there only to have it collapse. We tried again with a new queen and all seemed well until we realised she also wasn’t laying. So then I put a frame of eggs in and they picked up a little, so Mike put another frame in and they picked up some more. Unfortunately the colony didn’t really thrive until after the school visits had finished, however, it didn’t appear to diminish the children’s enjoyment.

We even had a Tree Bumblebee colony to show them. These are a recent migrant from Europe and really pretty. It was great to demonstrate the differences between honey bee combs and papery bumblebee nests amongst the soil.

Our aim is to inspire the children, to engender a sense of wonder and importance of the world about them. It’s important for us to place the honey-bee in an ecological context for them, so the other half of the visit which is a nature spotters ramble fits in beautifully. Before we unveil the bees themselves we talk about pollinators and why pollination is important for us. Then we challenge the children to guess which foods are mostly reliant on bee pollination.

How well would you do?

Here are a few to try, most (but not all) are bee dependent: lemon, kiwi, rice, apples, pears, strawberries, walnuts, rapeseed oil, cucumber, oats, chocolate, coffee…

I was really pleased with how much the children already knew about honeybees, it made it so much more fun to spot workers versus drones, honey cells versus brood cells and even the queen!

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As a group we tend towards a more apicentric or bee-centred way of keeping bees, with minimal intervention and we explore the reasons why with the children. Thinking about how important hive scent and warmth is for their well-being, how they communicate via scent, touch and vibration and how disruptive to the colony frequent opening is. We certainly don’t advocate ‘leave alone’ beekeeping, but there are ways to monitor bee health without opening the hive every week. Admittedly, it helps having glass panels on most of the hives…

Although we address current threats to bees with the children we also want them to go away with a positive message regarding easy ways to be bee-friendly. After all, a little less weeding is as easy as planting some herbs, or leaving clover patches in the lawn or piles of sticks (habitat piles) under the hedge.

Each child and school leaves with some bee-friendly seeds provided by Anglia Regional Co-operative society.

If you are interested in bringing a school to visit please contact Jill Basson of Anglia Regional Co-operative Society on 01733 225552.

Our journey to achieve all this in 2013:

February 2013 saw us marking out the spot we wanted for the shed in the cold, cold, cold weather. We chose a spot with easy access, not far from the broad and sheltered yet with sun to warm them up in the morning.

Paving and shed in place

 

With hTBH and National outside

During March 2013 we were waiting, fingers crossed, hoping our nucleus of bees would be ready in time for the first school visits at College Farm. They were, but only just. The cold beginning to 2013 followed by wet and windy weather meant the bees were late in getting started. More disastrously it appears several virgin queens weren’t able to successfully complete mating flights, including ours.

Going into the 2014 season we have three different types of hives (with bees) as well as the observation colony, a plan to plant bee-friendly (mostly cottage garden) flowers and various ideas on how to supplement the learning experience for the children. I’m looking forward to seeing the newly built hide / butterfly shed in action as well.

Building out onto comb board

 

And finally: some pictures of the Anglia Regional Co-operative Store Managers enjoying the same tour…

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