Saturday, 24 September 2011

Buzzing with Excitement!

Norwich Community Bees is officially up and running - we have our first hive of bees! Erik managed to track down a full colony and yesterday morning, Colin brought it over to the Norwich Farmshare site at Postwick.

Colin thought it might upset the bees to move the frames from his hives to ours, and since the bees
think it's late in the year, and upsetting them is best avoided, so he put his hive where ours was. We agreed that in spring we would put the bees in our hive and give Colin back his.

It was a proud moment when he and Erik moved the hive into place, and our bees were liberated form their locked quarters while in transit.

Unfortunately we were all a bit to close at that moment and Colin had to suddenly provide a rapid teaching session on how to comb bees out of exposed long hair. Poor Elena was stung under her eye, and had to go off to work with a rescue remedy splashed on liberally! But Colin did teach us to be relaxed about them - we will all get stung sooner or later.

Erik & the colony
Colin explains the setup

Elena and Bee with Colin
A bee in Bee's hair!
A glimpse of our bees
It's been a long journey from initial idea to finally getting the bees on site, but I'm so excited that we're now really a community beekeeping scheme at last! And it has really been a community effort, so a big thank you to everyone who's joined in the planning and doing, contributed their ideas, enthusiasm and skills. This is only just the beginning!
Pics: Bee and Tierney

Monday, 18 July 2011

Bungay Beehive Day
Festival Marquee, Castle Meadow
Sunday 24 July, 2011
Getting the whole town buzzing
Bungay Beehive Day is a celebration of the honeybee and other pollinating insects along with the plants they love. It’s a first-of-its-kind event organised by Bungay Community Bees (BCB) as part of the Bungay Festival and aims to promote awareness and enjoyment of the key relationship between people, plants and bees. Although we’ll be celebrating “all things bee” our theme will centre on the importance of insect pollination and how everyone can grow and protect flowers to support bees and other insects in our local environment.

Central to the day and the marquee will be an observation hive provided by Waveney Beekeepers, so everyone can see how honey bees work within a hive. A wide diversity of stalls will be busy giving both information all about bees and bee-friendly plants and everything you need to know about becoming a beekeeper and also selling plants and seeds, bee-related crafts and of course honey! There will be an activities area for children from making a bee swarm to to a flower mural and on the stage there will be a lively series of workshops and talks running through the day.

So if you want to know how to make a bee hotel and beeswax candle and find out all about natural beekeeping to bumblebees this is where you need to be! We’ll have a guest speaker from the innovative River of Flowers project talking about creating urban meadows in green corridors, as well as pollination and bio-diversity, a walk discovering Bees and Flowers in the neighbourhood and also a honey cake competition (with prize from BCB organiser and master cake maker from Three Willows CafĂ©, Gemma Parker).
Everyone is welcome. Refreshments are available.

Talks 11am Bee Guardians: Natural Beekeeping Trust 12 noon Bee and Flower Walk 1pm Bee corridors and biodiversity: River of Flowers 2pm Healing Power of Honey 3pm Bumblebees.
Workshops 11-12.30 Wildflowers for gardens and making bee Hotels. 2.30-4 Wildflowers for allotments and vegetable gardens and making bug hotels. On going making beeswax candles and beeframes; children's activities: making puppets, mobiles, masks and bee and flower mural.
Honey cake competition: Bake and bring along a honey cake with the most delicious winning a £15 gift voucher. 3pm Judging

Sunday, 10 July 2011

We made it!

So, despite the rather desperate weather yesterday, Dan and I managed to finish putting together the remaining frames!  Thanks to Darren, who brought round some new foundation after footie on Thursday, we had everything we needed.  There was a perfect moment when a honeybee flew down to see what we were up to and started exploring in amongst the frames, but sadly I wasn't quick enough to take what would have been a great photo!  It gave me confidence that our work was heading in the right direction.

Then we headed up the farm with our newly completed hive put it in pride of place, all ready for the bees to inhabit!

The hive in situ!

We both felt really pleased and proud to have finally got everything in place!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Birds and the Bees

We are now on Twitter!  Thanks to twitter-meister and bee-man Dan, you can now follow Norwich Community Bees at @norwich_bees.

If you're on Twitter, do follow us and get all your friends to follow us too!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Where does this bit go?

OK, perhaps we had not chosen the best possible day to put the hive together!  The streaky blotches on the picture are actually the hailstones driving down into the mud.  And it looked so sunny as we set out with the boot full of hive-parts and a spirit of adventure in our hearts!

Undaunted by the ominous rainclouds fast heading towards the FarmShare site, four of us unloaded everything and got to work.  Even though we didn't have the instructions at first, Erik knew which way was up and we got the main frame put together before the rain hit.

Retreating into the safety of the polytunnel, we sat amongst the tomatoes and aubergine plants and carried on while the hail bounced off the plastic skin above us, deafening us with its roar.

Despite all this noise and distraction, I completed my first ever frame!

The bees will use this honeycombed wax surface to build up the cells in which they'll store the honey.  Making frames is a fantastic job because the wax smells so wonderful and it was hours before the scent of beeswax finally disappeared from my hands.

Sadly, because of the heavy rain, we weren't able to leave the unfinished hive in situ, so I've brought it home to put some waterproofing linseed oil on the outside surfaces before we return it to Postwick.

Once it's waterproofed and the rest of the frames are complete, it'll all be ready for bees to call it home!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Starting to move

Things are now really starting to shape up for the Norwich Community Bee scheme.  On Saturday some of us went to the Norwich Farmshare open day, met up with Laura and the rest of the guys and had a good look round. We found the proposed site for the hives and it looked great to us; let's hope the bees agree!  Marco had some great ideas for wildflower borders around the farm office which could provide some colour and "bee-snacks" - providing that it fits in with the overall farm planning needs, of course.

Thanks to Darren at Beechwood Bees , we now have enough kit to start us off - we're really excited about this!  We are planning to meet up again next Saturday (18th June) at the farm and install the hive.  Do contact us if you'd like to come along and help.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

First Meeting

A group of excited bee enthusiasts got together on 26th May 2011 for the first meeting of the Norwich Community Bees initiative.

At the Spring Scheming in March this year, one of the ideas that came out was the idea of a community-led beekeeping initiative. I'd been very impressed by the Bungay Community Bees scheme and thought it would be fantastic if we could do something similar in Norwich. The well-publicised decline in bee populations in the UK has concerned a lot of people and there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room to take this idea further. I offered to start the ball rolling and began to contact people in Transition Norwich and beyond.

The people at Norwich Farmshare were keen to support us, and offered a space on the Postwick site to get us started, as well as putting us in touch with a local experienced beekeeper. The group has now started pulling together the plans to make it all happen. We now have 18 members, including a number of qualified and part-qualified beekeepers. It's been fantastic to see how much energy and enthusiasm there's been so far, and I'm really excited about the future of the scheme.

If you'd like to be a part of Norwich Community Bees, or would like to know more, contact Jon at