Monday, 29 August 2011

“Bees For Bentham”

Everyone is becoming more aware of the plight of bees and other pollinators.

An acquaintance applied for a grant to promote the welfare of pollinators, and bees in particular, by giving away bee-friendly plants to anyone willing to grow them in their garden. The grant application was successful, and in April, a group of like-minded people gathered in the local pub (always a good place to talk!) to discuss how to go about this and the working name of “Bees for Bentham” was agreed.

Some of the grant money went towards buying a supply of compost from the local green waste recycling company and some seeds chosen from lists of bee-friendly plants (many available on the internet). Some of us then propagated the first batch of plants.

We have acquired posters, leaflets and information booklets relating to bees and some of the problems they face and what we can do about them from Neal's Yard, The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust and A beautifully made banner has been put together by one of the team to attach to the stall we use.

Another local group called BEST (Bentham Environmentally Sustainable Town) were holding a “Garden Food Day” and we had a stall there giving away the first plants. Despite the weather (heavy rain all day) and having a stall outside (under a large canopy) we gave away and estimated 250 plants.
Some local people have offered us plants and cuttings which we have given away from a stall at the Low Bentham Street Fair, along with more information.

An unexpected side effect of this has been questions raised about bee-keeping from people who are interested, but unsure of where to start, find the cost of equipment prohibitive, or haven't gotten around to following up on their interest. I've given them all my contact details in the hope that they will contact me, so that I can invite them all to an “Introduction to Natural Beekeeping” evening. I am currently putting together a presentation on this subject which I will use. I was asked to put it together for the Sedburgh & District Beekeepers Association, where a number of beekeepers have expressed an interest.
If anyone else in the area is interested, PM me through the Biobees forum or use the Kontactr Me button to the left of the first post on the page.

Our stall in Low Bentham

Saturday, 20 August 2011

UK's First Natural Beekeeping Conference

I had the good fortune to attend the first UK Natural Beekeeping Conference held near Worcester from 5th to 7th August 2011. The event was held at the seasonal conference centre created by “Green and Away”, a tented location on an old plant nursery site. The site is designed to have a minimal impact on the environment, having solar water heaters, solar and wind electrical energy, composting loos and wood fired, open-air showers!

The conference was organised by the natural Beekeeping Alliance, which comprises Friends of the Bees and the Natural Beekeeping Trust, represented respectively by Phil Chandler and Heidi Hermann. Speakers included - Phil Chandler, Heidi Herrmann, David Heaf, Adebisi Adekunle, Brigit Strawbridge, James Fearnley, John Harding, Andy Pearce, Nicola Bradbear.

As with all conferences one of the aims was to meet other, like-minded people. There was plenty of time for chatting during tea and meal breaks (and the food was delicious!).

The talks were all fascinating, and it was a joy to not be PowerPointed to
death! There were demonstrations of all of the major natural beekeeping hive types, given by regular users (except the Perone hive, which was ably explained by Andy Pearce, who has obviously done an immense amount of research).

It is hoped that another conference will be held in two years (2013). I, for one, am looking forward to it!

Green and Away Camping Field