Just under 3 years ago we learned of the plight of the British honey bee. Scientists had expressed concern that in the preceding 2 years alone, we had lost 40 to 50% of our honey bees. The exact cause of the problem has not been identified but is made worse by an infestation of a foreign mite called the Veroa. Given that 1/3 of what we eat has been pollinated by the honey bee, this is a serious problem. Indeed Einstein estimated that mankind could only survive 4 years without the honey bee. Accordingly in the Spring of 2009 we launched the “Save Our Bees campaign.
We feel that gardeners are in a great position to protect the honey bee (an other bees) by planting “bee friendly” plants that produce pollen and nectar as a food source for the bee. Bees generally forage within 2 miles of the hive and thus in urban areas, gardens will be a prime source of food. As part of our campaign to save the bee we teamed up with a local beekeeping society to educate customers on the plight of the honey bee and the best plants to feed them. This website provides much more information on this elsewhere. We even persuaded Ken Clarke to back our campaign once he was informed that hops for beer are dependent on bees too!
We have now decided to go one step forward and keep our own bees. Having completed an introductory course on beekeeping I have now started a more comprehensive 10 week course and today ordered my first hive! For those who know about these things I have ordered the Langstroth hive as it offers more space for rearing bees and has top “bee space”. I cannot wait for it to arrive so I can commence the job of assembling and siting it. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until early June for my first bees as I hope to be busy in April and May with our peak sales season. I will keep you posted on my progress and with any luck I will be offering Dunscar honey this Autumn.