Bees – good news!

Well I can’t quite believe we’re in May already. I sometimes feel like I’m in the film of the Time Machine where he pushes the lever and the date meter starts to whirr faster and faster. Only yesterday we were celebrating the millennium and it’s 2014 already! Or maybe I’m finally losing the wee bit of sense I had.

The weather hasn’t been too bad at all but I’ve not had a lot of time outside which is frustrating. Still, the work side of life seems to be easing off now.  The big web site job I’ve been working on, Broad Leys Self Sufficiency, is nearly finished in the sense of having the basics in place.

Of course it’s not finished as such, we’ll be adding pages regularly and new sections but the foundations are in place. The bookshop side is working well now – we’ve got over a hundred books listed. Now that might not seem much compared to Amazon’s millions, but these are selected. It’s not so much what we offer as what we don’t.

Bees – some good news!

One of the big concerns of gardeners and agriculture is the decline in bee numbers in recent years. Simply put, without bees to pollinate so many of our fruit and vegetable varieties, we’re deep in the mire.

Hopefully new controls on pesticides will have a beneficial effect despite the manufacturers claims that their products aren’t responsible. (and the cheque is in the post, no doubt) Then there’s the problems of mite attacks weakening and even destroying hives. The last few years have seen precious little in the way of good news about bees.

However, The Welsh Bee Keepers Association (WBKA) actually have some positive news. They state that

“local beekeepers are helping the bees fight back. Through the management of bee colonies, treatment of disease and maintenance of the beehives, colony numbers are steadily increasing.”

However a new problem facing the beekeepers is finding suitable sites for the growing number of hives. Obviously you can only have so many hives in an area and the beekeepers need more places to put their beehives.

At the same time, there’s a lot of people who could give a home to beehive but can’t afford the time to learn and the equipment. The effect of a beehive on an allotment site or in a garden is to produce noticeably better crops due to improved pollination.

Commercial tomato growers actually import bees into their greenhouses purely to pollinate and ensure full trusses.

Bees Not a Problem

Honeybees, by the way, are no problem so long as you don’t disturb the hive. Unlike wasps who seem to delight in stinging you, honeybees only sting as a last resort when they feel threatened. This is because the stinging action actually kills the bee that does it so not something they do lightly.

In fact, honeybees are no bother at all. You can picnic nearby without being bothered as the hard working bees are too busy gathering nectar and pollinating to spend their time trying to get the jam!

Homes for Hives

So, we have beekeepers needing homes for hives and plots that could really benefit from them. The answer is pretty obvious – get the two halves together. The Welsh Beekeepers Association have come up with a way to do it with a widget on their website called ‘Hive Locator’.

In a nutshell it’s a way to bring together members of the public or organisations, who may have a spare plot of land that they would be happy to site a beehive on, with a local beekeeper looking for such a site.

Originally conceived for use by the people of Wales, the site now covers the whole of the UK and is already seeing some positive results with plots being listed and taken up at an increasing rate.

The scheme offers an all round win-win situation, benefiting gardeners and allotment owners along with commercial crop growers, who will all get better pollination of their plants, and when you consider that honeybees pollinate one third of all the food we eat, that’s important to us all.

I’ve registered myself, I’d love some beehives around but I’m not ready to take the plunge and get into beekeeping myself at the moment. Hopefully a beekeeper will be in touch soon. It’s very simple to do. Just go to and pop your details in. Remember this covers Britain, not just Wales.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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