How Bungay Community Bees Works

Bungay Community Bees – a Natural Beekeeping Project: With Honey Bee vulnerability in mind, Bungay Community Bees aims to manage hives in as sustainable a manner as possible. We are not a commercial venture and honey production is viewed as a bonus rather than a prime motive for bee keeping. We aim to use two or three systems over the next few years until we find one that suits us and the bees best. As a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture we have a proposed plan to expand both hives and beekeepers as follows:

Year 1: how we fared in 2010
During our first year 37 members were recruited. With subscriptions set at £20 we raised enough money to buy 3 National Hives with basic equipment, smocks and veils, insurance for 2 keepers, training for 2 more keepers and 2 nucleus’ of bees. In addition we had 1 hive, some equipment and some bees donated to us.
Members chose to participate as much or as little as they wished. This meant that although we never saw some members they were still receiving regular updates by e-mail, reports of the monthly summer meetings and a copy of the 2010 end of year summary. Visits to hives and any other significant events were also written up as a blog on the website. Others chose to attend meetings and visit hives and a new sub-group considering planting for bees was begun.

Year 2: how we fared in 2011
During our second year we recruited just under 50 members, again paying £20 each. We trained another beekeeper but have yet to set them up with bees, she will get going in Spring 2012. We did get a small honey harvest which we used to bake some honey buns at a group meeting with the surplus being shared out to those that wanted some. The first top bar hive got used but unfortunately not for long as wasps drove the bees out.

The Plants for Bees project got off the ground with a flourish, as did the Education and Outreach one. As a group we grew quite rapidly and have had to adopt a slightly more formal set-up, with roles and leads more tightly defined. Alongside this we have set up a programme of meetings and events for 2012, each of which will be followed by a newsletter.

Year 3: plans for 2012
In the third year we again hopefully recruit a similar number of members, again with subscriptions remaining at £20. We aim to train another two beekeepers and build our colony numbers up so that each is responsible for two hives. If we succeed the honey and wax share will increase.

Plants for Bees and Education and Outreach will continue to develop their projects.

Potential benefits for members include:
• Visits to the hives with the BCB beekeepers to learn more about apiculture
• The possibility of having a hive in garden (if the site is suitable; hives will only be tended by insured BCB beekeepers)
• The chance to attend monthly summer meetings, often with a hive visit and a topic of interest
• The chance to attend a beekeeping course paid for by BCB with the Waveney Beekeepers Group, followed by being set up with one or more of the group hives.
• An invitation to the honey harvest and bee party every Autumn.
• Regular updates and photos via the BCB pages on the SB website.
• A share of the wax and honey. BCB will be as much about caring for bees as about bee products: yields cannot be guaranteed and, certainly in the first few years as the hives establish, are likely to be very low and possibly non-existent.
• The opportunity to join either of our 2 sub-groups; plants for bees and educational/outreach projects.

Year 4:
Consolidation. A similar number of members are recruited, again ideally the same as in years 1, 2 and 3 with the subscription fee to be determined depending on the wishes of the group. General concensus could ask for a reduced fee or for funds to go towards education or planting within the community. The only expenditure is insurance for 6 beekeepers, consumables and extra equipment that might be required. During this year the merits of the various hive types are assessed.

Year 5:
Same as year 4, or the group might decide to repeat the growth cycle for a little longer.
Over time the honey and wax share should increase to the point where a £10 annual investment delivers an excellent return in honey and other hive products – but it could also be that in some years we produce little or nothing.

If you’d like to join us for the 2012 beekeeping season please click the button below and fill in the form: