Oh, what a wonderful thing to be, A healthy grown up busy, busy bee…
(From The Bee Song by Arthur Askey)
In recent years bees and their welfare have created a buzz in the news.
A recent statement from the UN-backed body, IPBES (The Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) said: “Many wild bees and butterflies have been declining in abundance, occurrence and diversity at local and regional scales in Northwest Europe and North America.” The report stressed the importance of protecting pollinators to ensure stable fruit and vegetable output amid concerns over the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population in the coming decades.
What can we do in the face of such news? I am ashamed to say that until recently, I rarely gave bees or their honey much thought. I bought the occasional jar to spread on toast or add to yogurt, and I’ve signed an online petition about bee welfare, but that’s about it. Not anymore, though! I have discovered Reigate Bee Keepers!
The Reigate Beekeeping Association was founded in 1917. Its President in the 1930s was Jeremiah Colman of Colman’s Mustard fame (Honey & Mustard – tasty!). It is one of 8 divisions in Surrey and has more than 200 active members. It’s an activity that brings together enthusiasts of all ages (8 years old to 90+) and abilities (beginners to Master Beekeepers). They have a main training apiary on a 2 ½ acre site just south of Dorking where members meet each Wednesday at 6.30pm from April to the end of August. It’s a beautiful site with 20 bee colonies, a pavilion as an education centre, and when hives are inactive during the winter months lectures are given.
Reigate Beekeepers reach out to the wider community too providing a much-needed swarm collection service. Members also visit schools, fetes and shows to help educate the public. The Association’s website is full of information, advice, events and recipes, but if you’re really keen to find out more about beekeeping, there will be a Taster Training Day on Saturday, June 16 2016. Visitors will gain an overview of beekeeping and be able to see inside a hive. All equipment and protective clothing will be provided on the day, but do come in stout trousers and wellies. Admission is £50 per adult/£25 per child.[tie_slideshow] [tie_slide] [/tie_slide] [tie_slide] [/tie_slide] [tie_slide] [/tie_slide] [/tie_slideshow]
One member, Suzy, a very passionate beekeeper, went to a Taster Day five-years-ago and now she has four hives in her garden with bee colonies in three of them. She says it’s an addictive hobby as there is always something new to learn. Is there a downside? Yes, she says – getting stung! However, I’ve tasted the honey that Suzy’s bees produce and it is well worth it.
For more information contact the Reigate Beekeepers at www.reigatebeekeepers.org.uk