Friday, 13 July 2012

Bungay Community Bees' Bee Hive Day!

Bungay Community Bees' biggest event of the year: Bee Hive Day

A family event with something for everyone including an acclaimed film, a bee and pollinator walk, fascinating talks, a workshop, crafts, information stands, an observation hive and stalls selling bee related art, foods and books as well as refreshments provided by Bungay Community Kitchen it will (as is the way with all things bee) inform, inspire, amuse and intrigue you.

Last year around 2000 people came, some stayed for the whole day others to listen to particular speakers, join the walk or just look at the displays and talk to the beekeepers. This year we're delighted that the Natural Beekeeping Trust have agreed to come and talk and founding trustee Heidi Hermann will tell us all about swarming - perhaps the most exhilarating event of a honeybee colony’s annual lifecycle. The Natural Beekeeping Trust takes a holistic view of beekeeping informed and inspired by organic and biodynamic principles, they regularly run workshops in London and from their Sussex base but have never spoken in East Anglia so this is a great opportunity for beekeepers and those interested in bees to hear about their approach.

For more information, visit the Sustainable Bungay website:

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bee Event in Norwich - 27th June 2012

Leading gardeners, campaigners and beekeepers speak out for action to tackle bee decline

"Bee loss is SERIOUS, Demand action NOW" Bob Flowerdew

As part of a campaign to protect the bee, [1] Friends of the Earth is calling on David Cameron to produce a National Bee Action Plan to tackle bee decline. It says that the PM should suspend those pesticides linked with bee deaths, make changes to the way impacts on bee health are assessed and include targets for reducing use of pesticides.

A public meeting calling for action will take place on Wednesday, 27 June at the Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich at 7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm). Speakers [2] include Bob Flowerdew, broadcaster, author and President of the Norfolk Organic Group, Paul Metcalf, Easton College and President of Norfolk Beekeepers Association and Linda Laxton, Founder, British Wildflower Plants Co., Norfolk (largest wildflower producer in the UK and Chelsea Flower Show Award Winner). Chair for the evening is Chris Skinner, Norfolk farmer, BBC broadcaster and conservationist. Bee and honey related stalls will be on site. Admission is free.
For more information: email: Tel: 07864 674014

Jennifer Parkhouse, Co-ordinator, Norfolk Friends of the Earth said:
"The alarming decline of the bee is of concern to us all. The Government must fully recognise the importance and conservation needs of bees across the country. Friends of the Earth research reveals it would cost the UK £1.8 Billion every year to hand pollinate crops without bees. Food prices would soar and the economy would take another huge hit".

Chris Skinner, who farms 100 acres at Caistor St. Edmund on which 70 different species of bee collect their nectar, has designed his fields to encourage bees to settle in the area and help halt their decline. He said:
"70% of UK land area is farmed intensively for agriculture and is quite hostile to bees but we can all help reverse this trend of bee decline. Farmers and householders everywhere can allocate an area of their land or garden to attract bees. Pollen and nectar plants like borage, clover and phacillia not only add colour to the garden - bees love them!". He added: "We mustn't underestimate the importance of tackling bee decline. It's said that if we lose the bees, we will probably become extinct ourselves".

MP for Mid Norfolk and elected Chair of the All Party Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, George Freeman said:
"The decline in bees in Britain and across Europe is serious not only for honey production but also because they are vital pollinators of our agricultural and horticultural crops, flowers and trees. I commend Friends of the Earth for raising public awareness of the plight of the bee through Bee Cause campaign. Now we need to develop appropriate policy based on best available scientific evidence. As Chair of the All Party Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture I hope that we can determine and reverse the causes of bee decline. We need healthy populations of bees for our food production, our economy and our quality of life".

Pesticide use rose by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010, increasing the risk to bee populations according to new research released last month by Friends of the Earth. The report "The Decline of England's Bees" [3] was carried out by leading bee experts at the University of Reading. As well as an overall rise in pesticide use, the report reveals an increase in insecticides that tend to be used on crops pollinated by bees - increasing the risk to them. The report also shows the use of herbicides can destroy important sources of food for bees.

Bees are critical to Britain's food supply and economy, but numbers of some species have fallen dramatically in recent years. Three British bumblebees have become extinct, solitary bees have declined and managed honeybee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005. Loss of lowland meadows and hedges and the destruction of local wildlife sites have removed vital sources of food and nesting sites for bees. The report finds that farmers urgently need more support to ensure a bee-friendly countryside, planning policy must be strengthened to protect bee habitats and there needs to be a new focus on supporting bee species other than managed honeybees.

Editor's notes:

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Parkhouse, emai: Tel: 07864 674014
Michael Uwins, email: Tel: 07530 533747

[1] The Friends of the Earth Campaign 'The Bee Cause' can be found at:
[2] Full list if speakers: Paul de Zyva, Head of nature, Friends of the Earth, Bob Flowerdew, Broadcaster, author and President of Norfolk Organic Group, Paul Metcalf, Easton College, President of Norfolk Beekeepers Association, Linda Laxton, Founder, British Wildflower Plants Company, Tim Strudwick, wild bee expert, Adviser to Norfolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

[3] To see a briefing of the report, and the full report, click on Bee Report at:

Photo Opportunity: Speakers will join larger than life bees (colourful 2 metre bee costumes) in the Assembly House Garden for tea and honey between 6:30/7:15pm.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

We have bees!

Here at Norwich Community Bees, we've been on high alert for the past week as we've been waiting and hoping that we might get a swarm.  After a few false starts (warm morning followed by wind and cloud in the afternoon) I finally got the call on Friday afternoon!  Beekeeper-extraordinaire Colin had found a swarm for us!

One rapid round of mails, calls and texts later, and Tom stepped forward to meet Colin at Norwich Farmshare to install the bees in the hive.

Despite a slight technical hitch that meant there was only one suit available, Tom got some great shots of the bees heading into their new home!

The next afternoon, Dan, Bee, Suzanne and I headed over to the site to see how they were settling in and add some additional frames. It was the first time I'd suited up and got up close and personal with a hive, and I was quite nervous, but as soon as we opened the hive, you could just hear that the bees were getting on fine, and they were really calm while we checked them out and added the frames.

It was a fantastic experience, and I can't wait to go back and see how they're getting on.  As Dan said, watching them flying in and out of the hive and listening to the buzzing is so peaceful, you could quite imagine bringing a deckchair and a nice bottle of wine and making an afternoon of it!

We'll be feeding them this week, and in a week or so, Colin will come back and give them a health-check for us.  Watch this space and we'll let you know the plans.

If you're not yet a member and are interested in knowing more about Norwich Community Bees, drop us a line at  We'd love to hear from you!

Pics: Colin transferring the bees from skep to hive.  Watching the bees marching into their new home.  Jon (l) and Dan (r) adding frames to the hive.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Black Honeybees Rediscovered

Lovely piece from today's online Guardian

Native black honeybees, previously thought all but extinct in the UK, are better suited to surviving the British climate and could hold the key to reversing colony collapse
Read the full story here.

Pic from Bibba, via the Guardian Website

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sunday Meeting Postponed

At last the sun has come out!

Unfortunately, we're going to have to postpone Sunday's meetup, but I'm really keen that we get together as soon as possible. I've created a doodle (link below) for a visit to the farm to sort out the hive and get everything ready for the summer. I've put lots of dates to make it as open to as many people as possible.

Please do let me know if you have any trouble with the link, or have any questions at all.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy Easter from Norwich Community Bees

Happy Easter to you all!

The weather is starting to warm up now, and Norwich Community Bees is starting to think about hives and swarms for this summer.

Our next meeting is this Sunday, 15th April, from 11.00 up at the Norwich Farmshare site. If you'd like to come along, please let me know, or fill in the doodle here:

We'll be sorting out the hive and getting everything ready for the summer.
If you would like to join Norwich Community Bees as a paid-up member, please let me know. Our bank account accepts electronic payments, or I'm happy to take cash or cheques on 15th if you're able to come along. I'll bring some membership certificates, and full membership gives you a share in any of the fine products that the bees might make to share with us.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

2012 Planning - The Results

We had a great meeting last week at the Bicycle Shop in Norwich to plan out our activity for 2012. It was great to see everyone, and to hear so much enthusiasm for Norwich Community Bees!

First of all, we talked about visiting the hive and seeing what's happening with our bees. The view was that it's best to leave the bees alone until towards the end of March (subject to weather - if it gets warmer, we'll bring that forward).  As people's availability will vary due to work, and other, commitments, we'll need to make sure we give everyone a chance to join in on a practical level if they want to.

We currently have the one hive, but the group was very keen on building up the numbers, and to this end,we're planning on building a Top Bar Hive (or two) during February / March.  Everyone was really keen to get stuck in and help, which was great!

Food for our bees was very much on our minds, and we talked about the work the Bungay Beekeepers are doing to provide bee corridors of wild flowers.  We want to see if there's any scope to plant some wild meadow flowers in the borders of the farm.

We also talked about money and membership; to make this work, we will need to pay for various things this year - we now have a bank account and we're happy to take cash, cheques or online payments - membership for 2012 is just £20.