Would you like to BEE involved with school visits?

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School Education sessions are coming up!!!
If you’re interested in getting involved it’s a chance to inspire kids, see bees and get out on a farm on the edge of the broads. Visits involve a talk and games based around pollination, the importance of habitat, pesticides, a nature spotting ramble and some more honeybee specific fun facts before unveiling our glass hive. It’s a chance for you to learn more or to share what you know depending on your preference. Visits are on Tuesday mornings in June and July at College Farm in Aldeby (near Beccles). Lift sharing or expenses are covered. Get in touch!! bees@sustainablebungay.com 07791495012

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The Hemp Field – talk at Bungay Community Library, Sunday 28th September, 11am

chapter 2Our final event of The Dye Garden season, The Hemp Field promises to be a fascinating exploration into the hidden history of local hemp production -one of the world’s most useful and sustainable crops.

Three hundred years ago, the Waveney valley was at the heart of the East Anglian hemp weaving industry. Today, no active traces of the industry remain, but has left legacy of place names and a precious heritage of textiles in local museums.

Tim Holt-Wilson (former Curator of Diss Museum) will give a talk explaining the Waveney hempenspun and allied linen industries and their legacy in landscape and culture today.

The Dye Garden
is part of the Library Community Garden, created by Sustainable Bungay in 2009. The showcase central bed changes each year and during the growing year the Garden hosts plant and produce exchanges, events and workshops around its chosen theme from bee-friendly flowers to medicine plants.Our 2014 events have looked at key dye and fabric plants from the perspective of artists, makers, curators and growers and have provided a practical and imaginative insight into our relationships with cloth and colour through time.

We’ve found out about the great blue plants – woad and indigo, dipped cloth into blackcurrants and marigolds, been on the art trial with Black Dog Arts, swapped fennel seeds and pressed apples, learned how to prune pear and cherry trees, and marvelled at the giant artichoke in the central bed, along with St John’s wort, cosmos, dahlias, feverfew, madder, green alkanet and a host of colourful and useful flowers.

Hope to see you at our final event on Sunday! In October we will be preparing the garden for winter and the swapover to our 2015 theme, Helpful Herbs.  All welcome.

The Hemp Field will be on Sunday 28th September, 2014 at 11am at Bungay Community Library, Wharton Street, Bungay. Free. Donations welcome. Further information: www.sustainablebungay.com. or contact Charlotte Du Cann theseakaleproject@hotmail.co.uk (01502  722419)

 

Library Community Garden and Bungay Gardens Art Trail – Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July, 12 noon – 4pm

5124818We’re on the Trail! This weekend the Library Community Garden is taking part in the Black Dog Arts Garden Art Trail. We’ll be here to guide you round the permaculture garden Sustainable Bungay created in 2009, where we keep a showcase bed and run a progamme of events around different themes, from bee-friendly flowers to medicine plants.

This year we have focused on dye plants and Mary Sprake from Black Dog Arts – who gave a great talk here on woad in April – will be displaying some of her true blue fabrics in this very green courtyard.

Each year Black Dog Arts organises a Garden Art Trail around some of the hidden gardens of Bungay. Here is their invitation: “You can stroll round the town and discover great garden gems and the garden art and craftworks inspired by them.

There are approximately 9 gardens open this year mostly within the town centre but a few will be on the outskirts making this more of a diverse tour. The gardens are picked because they are all well hidden and have their own interesting features.

There will be art in all the gardens consisting of sculpture, ceramics and paintings/drawings and textile work. Also included is our Allotment Society.

BCLG 13.7.2014Refreshments will be provided at one of the gardens.

Proceeds to Black Dog arts to fund workshops in much of the art media.

Cost:
£2.00 for entry to all gardens (though entrance to the library is free)

How to get event passports:
Leaflet maps available from Bungay library in Wharton Street or shops, businesses and community buildings throughout the town.

Further information:
Phone: 01986 893 550

Website: http://www.opengardens.co.uk/open_gardens.php?id=226

Wildflowers at Bungay Castle

BCB’s Gemma Parker has worked with Jasmine Lingwood’s family to create a wildflower area at Bungay Castle. The following is an update from Gemma:

When Jasmine died in 2012 she was kind enough to ask for funeral donations to go to the Bungay Community Bee Group. As Jasmine was a member of Suffolk Wildlife Trust and keen to see wildlife thriving in the area we wanted to use the money in a way that very much reflected the work she did during her lifetime. In the summer of 2013 a group of like minded people along with Jasmine’s family got together at Bungay Castle to see about creating a wild flower area for bees & pollinating insects. With the permission of the Castle Trust we decided that a pilot area should be planted to test whether our idea would work successfully. Using Rose Titchner’s expertise along with experience of sowing a wild flower meadow in Flixton we proceeded in the Autumn to lift the existing turf & sow two wild flower mixes (details of the exact flowers can be found below) ready for flowering the following Spring.
In April 2014 a plaque was erected in memory of Jasmine & the work the bee group has done and the pilot space has developed into a beautiful flowery area. This is a great motivator to extend the area & create a bee border along the castle.

Wildflowers at Bungay Castle

Meadow Mix for Sandy Soils: Yarrow, Common Knapweed, Wild Carrot, Viper’s Bugloss, Lady’s Bedstraw, Oxeye Daisy, Common Toadflax, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Musk Mallow, Ribwort Plantain, Hoary Plantain, Cowslip, Selfheal, Meadow Buttercup, Bulbous Buttercup, Sorrel, Bladder Campion – plus Meadow Grasses (to prevent bareness in winter): Common Bent, Sweet Vernal Grass, Crested Dogstail, Fine-leaved Sheep’s Fescue, Sheep’s Fescue, Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Smaller Cat’s-Tail.
Cornfield Mix: Corn Cockle, Corn Chamomile, Cornflower, Corn Marigold, Common Poppy

Topping Top Bar Afternoon

The sun shone and the bees were busy. Always good news when one wants to look at a colony of bees. I have a horizontal Top Bar Hive (hTBH) in my garden which has had bees in it for two years now, last week they swarmed and gathered handily on my trampoline so now there is a Top Bar nuc box as well. They will be transferred into a hive when the weather improves.

Top Bar hives are a relatively recent introduction to the UK so it was a chance for  interested people to come along and see one in action as well as play around with an empty one. As with any social gathering cake was present, every one of which had bee-pollinated ingredients; chocolate, oranges, lemons, almonds, cherries and of course, coffee.

Bee chat :)

Cakes, all with bee-pollinated ingredients

It’s easier to adopt more ‘natural beekeeping’ or apicentric beekeeping methods with a Top Bar Hive, but Bungay Community Bees  also has conventional National hives and a soon to be tried out modified National (to make use of our spare National equipment without using printed foundation wax sheets – but more of that in a later post). Two of the biggest advantages to a Top Bar Hive are that the bees build their own comb and that when you inspect by opening the hive up only a small section is revealed at a time, thus retaining nest scent and warmth as much as possible.

Get closer!

 

Looking through the glass panel

 

Comb of stores

 

capped honey at the top, nectar in the centre. Fallen comb inside and on the left.

capped honey at the top, nectar in the centre. Fallen comb inside and on the left.

You can see inside and to the left a comb recently fell from the bar, the bees have  attached the upright portion to the follower board, which isn’t terribly helpful from a beekeepers perspective but I have left for now. The horizontal portion is being harvested and the wax used elsewhere. We only inspected a couple of bars this time as I didn’t want to disturb the colony too much, the new queen should be hatching soon.

We had a quick peek inside the nuc box  to see how they had settled in over the week. I had expected  all the syrup I gave them as back-up to have gone but it was only  half gone so they were obviously managing well even with two days confined to the hive due to weather. I had also expected to see maybe two or maybe three bars of comb but they had built on every bar (six in total) although the last was very small still. Happy Bees

Top Bar nuc one week on

 

New comb in Top Bar nuc

If you are interested in any of  our different hive types please get in contact and we can arrange for you to see them. We have hTBH’s as mentioned and are also getting to grips with some Warre (stacking Top Bar Hives) at the moment. They all overwintered well and have produced several swarms already.

We now have a facebook page on which our beekeepers post regular pictures and updates, just search for Bungay Community Bees and ‘like’ the page to receive them.

Sticky Thoughts

I love honey, not everybody does I know, but for me, the darker the better. And heather honey. Oh yum.

But I eat less honey now than I ever did before I became interested in bees. Initially beekeeping appealed to me as a form of ‘re-skilling’, learning how to become a little more self-sustainable and grounding myself in the processes involved with meeting our everyday needs. I learnt beekeeping alongside bread making, knitting, vegetable growing and basic sewing. Needless to say some of these ventures have been more successful than others. But I digress.

Honey.

It is a miraculous substance, formed from nectar collected by honeybees and transformed into a stickiness that can be stored for a very long time and is not only delicious but can be good for us as well. But, what it’s really, really good for is honey bees. And therein lies my problem. I don’t wish to take what the bees need. However, many colonies make an excess of honey and I’m happy to take that. The difficulty lies in judging the amounts. But time and experience will eventually tell.

There is also something great about buying honey from someone who’s life will be turned around by it. Bees for Development is a fabulous organisation teaching sustainable beekeeping techniques, appropriate for the local environment, while supporting those with no previous income to generate one.

My most recent jar of honey isn’t local (‘our’ bees are fairly newly established and haven’t made enough to take any for the last couple of years, although this year is looking more hopeful). My current jar of honey was bought and started a year ago and comes out when a treat is needed or a throat needs soothing. It comes direct from the beekeepers in the mountains of Corfu and I walked among the abundance of pesticide free wildflowers the nectar came from. I will never have a jar of honey like this again.

Corfu honey

 

 

 

 

Mountains Corfu

 

But then, each jar is pretty special. Here are some amazing Honey facts:

  • Cave paintings in Spain depict the gathering of honey, 15,000 years ago.
  • Honey is a hebrew word meaning enchant
  • Honey is an excellent preservative and was used in embalming
  • Edible honey was found in an Egyptian tomb
  • Romans paid their taxes in honey
  • Honey is anti-bacterial, hydroscopic (water absorbing) and recuperative in terms of energy
  • It’s  a great source of energy, brilliant on ulcers and skin lesions and as an immune system boost
  • Sugar isn’t as sweet as honey
  • Nectar is mostly water, honey has less than 19% water. This occurs by a repeated process of honey consumption and regurgitation which allows water to evaporate
  • It would take 1,100 bees to make 1kg of honey and they would have to visit 4 million flowers
  • One bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon on honey in its entire life. So it’s precious stuff! Scrape that plate clean 🙂

 

Spanish cave painting (copy)

 Woman gathering honey, watercolor copy by F. Benitez Mellado of aMesolithic (c. 10,000/8000–c. 3000 bce) painting in the Cueva de la Arana, near Bicorp, Spain; in the Museum of Prehistory, Valencia, Spain.

Most of our Bungay Community Bees honey is crushed and strained, as is much of it from small-scale honey producers. This allows the inclusion of local pollen – amongst other bits and pieces. Pollen is high in vitamin C and if local enough can assist with acclimating the body for those with hayfever. In contrast, major brand honey is often superheated and ultra-filtered, which removes those benefits.

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Bungay Community Bees honey 2011 (and yes, it was delicious)

So, my personal stance is to consume moderate amounts of honey, from as sustainable a source as possible. If I buy honey I would rather buy from a local beekeeper or a source with humanitarian benefit, not a multi-national brand name.

Meanwhile I shall keep my fingers crossed for the bees in our hives to make loads more honey than they need, while continuing to plant my garden with lovely nectar rich flowers and letting the clover rampage for a bit.

There are various sources of information for the above, but I have directly used Bees4Kids.org.uk and ‘Honey: natures golden healer’ by Gloria Havenhand. There are lots of therapeutic uses in her book – and she only uses surplus honey 🙂

by Elinor McDowall (member of Bungay Community Bees) 

 

 

 

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 in  South West USA

 

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