Bungay Comunity Bees (BCB) has captured the imaginations of many this year. Several other Community Beekeeping groups have begun and we have become known to inspiring organisations such as The Natural Beekeeping Trust, Friends of the Bees (Phil Chandler ‘The Barefoot Beekeeper’), Bees for Development, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife, whilst continuing to strengthen our links with the Soil Association and Sustain. The way in which we straddle the worlds of Beekeeping and Community Transition sets us apart from many other Beekeeping groups and is a major strength.
We grew rapidly in numbers and ideas this year. Building upon our burgeoning awareness of the greater picture concerning bees and the many challenges they face, we have formed four project strands:
Beekeeping; bees in hives and training others to become beekeepers/guardians
Education and Outreach; hosting Bungay Beehive Day, talking to interest groups, schools and others
Hives; making top bar hives and exploring different designs with sustainability in mind
Plants for Bees; looking at ways to preserve and promote bee-friendly spaces and gardens
Our website http://www.sustainablebungay.com/bungay-community-bees-2/ is continually changing to reflect the needs of our group. In addition to a complete library of BCB posts we have sub-category archives specific to each strand. There is an electronic membership form and several links to interesting organisations and websites. We are currently working on some resource pages. If you have any ideas you would like to see implemented please contact us via the form on the BCB page, firstname.lastname@example.org or 01986 948154.
Co-ordinated by Elinor McDowall
2011: We have had a mixed year in terms of colonies in hives. Unfortunately we lost a few colonies for a variety of reasons including cold temperatures, varroa, injured queens and the unexplained evacuation of a hive. However, we do have an extremely strong colony as the winter turns and I hope to build our numbers up this year. Especially as we now have honey extracting equipment and jars!
Our first horizontal Top Bar Hive (hTBH) saw service as home to a swarm and they built some beautiful comb in it. That is, after we removed a very large and majestic (native) hornet and her delicate paper nest…
The Natural Beekeeping Conference gave Eloise and I plenty of food for thought about beekeeping principles and methods, we have shared some of these in a post on the website.
Plans for 2012: We currently have two beekeepers, with four apiary sites and more offered should we need them. Another two members will be trained with Waveney Beekeepers Group and we would like to have between four and eight hives by the end of the summer.
It would be good to build our colonies up early to allow us to access any excess honey stores!
Plants for Bees
Co-ordinated by Rose Titchener.
Our pilot project with the Three Willows Garden Centre in Bungay has taken off. Although not quite finished, there is a display stand highlighting bees and bee-friendly plants backed up by BCB ‘bee-friendly’ stickers indicating appropriate plants.
Some of us attended the Linking Landscapes event hosted by the Suffolk Naturalists, which was full of great ideas from some great organisations – encouraging us to think big yet again.
Plans for 2012: We are in the process of designing a poster and leaflet to encourage bee-friendly practices.
We will continue communicating with growers, retailers and gardeners. There are several farmers we know of who are using some really interesting techniques in both organic and conventional agriculture that we would like to know more about.
The wildflower meadow and pond will be further developed and we will begin monitoring species of plants and bees/insects at our Flixton apiary.
Once again there will be ‘walks’ led by plant and bee enthusiasts, a chance to learn more about, but more importantly to step back and appreciate what is. From there one can think about how to optimise the spaces around each of us.
Education and Outreach
Co-ordinated by Gemma Parker.
2011: Those that joined us at the end of July already know what a success Bungay Beehive Day was. Held in a marquee on Castle Meadow we had various displays about plants, honeybees, bumblebees and hives. The observation hive (thanks to Bob and Sally Spruce of WBG) was fascinating, as were the slides and activities provided by the Iceni Microscopy Group. Other contributors came from the Natural Beekeeping Trust, the River of Flowers project and our own BCB (plants, healing honey, bumblebees) with a hugely popular ‘bees and flowers’ walk.
We also spent a very busy week with Bungay Primary School (read the blog post) and spoke to several local interest groups.
Plans for 2012: Look out for Bungay Beehive 2012 on July 15th! We shall shortly be asking if anyone wishes to participate, and if so, in what capacity. Let us know if you would like to be involved in any way.
We have bookings to speak to several groups throughout the year, including to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust on March 19th (see diary dates).
Co-ordinated by Mike Southern.
2011: Mike built two hTBH’s for us which we hope to get back into service this year. He is currently in the process of building another two. Ever curious he has been researching other hive types using natural comb as well.
Plans for 2012: Mike did a wonderful job of organising an (incredibly popular) hTBH building course which has unfortunately had to be cancelled due to our partner organisation being unable to continue. We are currently looking at alternative options. In the meantime Mike is considering a step by step instructional guide to complement his existing blog and photographs.
Publicity, conferences and networking
Wow! This year we seem to have got everywhere in one way or another; we have presented at a Soil Association Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) conference, been interviewed alongside UEA Beekeepers and Gods Acre Beekeepers for the British Beekeepers Association News (not yet published), had a double page spread in the EADT, several appearances in the Bungay and Beccles Journal and an interview on Radio Suffolk. We have also appeared in ‘A Growing Trade’ by Sustain (downloadable here) and in the new Transition book ‘The Transition Companion’ in addition to getting mentioned in Transition News and on the Transition Show (Radio Stroud) – thanks Mark!
And then there are the many other ‘talks’ our members have given to various groups and friends, I’m sure at the very least most of you will have mentioned us to someone else… I know somebody even mentioned BCB whilst chatting at the worldwide gathering of beekeepers (Apimondia 2011) in Argentina (and the best bit is they had already heard of us!).
Several of us have attended various other conferences (self funded), including The Natural Beekeeping Conference, Linking Landscapes Conference and Transition Camp.
Dates for your Diary 2012:
February 12th 14.30, Old Rectory, Flixton – Making Bug Hotels with Eloise
April 15th 14.30, Old Rectory, Flixton – Planting & Sowing with Rose
June 10th (time yet to be arranged) – Walk/Talk at High Ash Farm, Caister with Chris Skinner
August 19th 14.30, Old Rectory, Flixton – Identifying plants and bees, survey our apiary site
October 14th 14.30, Old Rectory, Flixton – Natural Beekeeping Conference Review with Elinor
December 9th 14.30, Earsham or Flixton – Making & Creating for Christmas
Plants for Bees and the other strands are likely to be holding various extra events/meetings/work days
‘Queen of the sun’ is a new, highly recommended film about bees, to be held at the Waveney Beekeepers headquarters in Barsham, date yet to be confirmed.
March 12th – BCB talking to Suffolk Wildlife Trust, 19.30 Bungay Community Centre
July 15th – Bungay Beehive Day
July 29th – stall at Weston Country Fair, 10.30 – 6.00, volunteers VERY welcome!
August 10th-12th – Natural Beekeeping Conference, West Sussex
Big Thank-you’s !!
So many people have enabled BCB to step beyond the original plan this year, here are some of them:
*Adnams Charity: funded our honey extractor and jars
*Beechwood Bees: once again they donated beekeeping equipment, bees and advice
*Bungay Rainbow Store: gave fun day proceeds to fund Hives and Plants for Bees
*Every single member: nothing could happen without you!
*Volunteers: your hearts and souls (and time) are very much appreciated
*Waveney Beekeepers Group: always kind, supportive, informative and interested in our efforts… As members of BCB you are welcome to their meetings, a diary can be found on their website.
Remember, BCB benefits in many ways from being a community group. Not least from the varying interests and skills of our members. If you have any ideas you think the group could take on please let the rest of us know!