Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Test Plots

Last week I went to YSP to scatter the seeds onto the 2 test meadow plots behind the Garden Gallery.

When I first proposed the 2 big meadows for the site back in July, it was suggested that we might do test plots so we could try it all out on a smaller scale and learn and modify anything before planting the 2 bigger meadows.

As it goes, for various reasons (which i will explain some other time) it's now become apparent that although YSP is 500 acres in size there isn't any areas that 2 x one acre meadows can go.

For a while i wondered what the point of test plots would be knowing we were never going to achieve the final vision. But with time to think (and some coaxing) I decided it was worth the effort if only to point out the absurdity of policy, funding and management of land and what effect that can have when trying, in this instance, to plant 2 meadows for bees. What you want and need is very different from what you can have.

The day of seeding the plots was beautiful and sunny. Claire, who works in the park, showed me the technique of how to scatter seeds (it's trickier than you'd think!) and Tom and me raked each plot when finished. Now we have to wait and see what comes up next year...

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Bee Club

Thursday night is Bee Club night - and i know i'm breaking the rules of Bee Club when i write about it on the blog*, but i must say i am really enjoying learning so much about beekeeping.

All us novices test the teacher time and time again with loads of questions such as can a honeybee mate with a bumblebee (no kidding) and she always tells us the many answers (no, in that instance).
I'm still finding the karate club activities in the next room a little distracting, so i think i missed the bit about how to look out for when a queen is getting ready to swarm, but i expect it'll be covered again in one of the next lessons.

The next session is in the back of the church, so unless the karate class are practising in the aisle i think i might have a better chance of concentrating.

* Rules of Bee Club:

1 You do not talk about Bee Club

2 You DO NOT talk about Bee Club

3 When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it the Bee Club is over

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Honey Shot

I was back at YSP this week after some time away and Ivor came to deliver the honey that our hives have produced. I've been so excited waiting for the honey. He said that the bees have produced about 25 jars and for two new colonies that's not too bad. The mixed summer weather didn't help too much either.

It smells and tastes of all the flowers of the park: rosebay, lavender, lime and bramble all mixed together. It is a pale, slightly cloudy golden colour.

I couldn't wait to get home and try it - dipping crusty bread in and getting sticky fingers. Yummy, yum.

I've drizzled it onto almost every meal since (feel a bit sick now).

Monday, 11 October 2010

Beekeeping Course

I've signed on to a British Beekeepers Association Introduction to Beekeeping course here in Preston and it was the first session at the end of last week. It was two hours and the course leader, Viki Cuthbertson, told us masses of stuff about bees.

There are about 15 of us on the course and we're all keen to learn more (i seem to be the only one to confess that i will probably never keep bees - only from seeing what a responsibility and commitment it is during the YSP project). Everyone else either has a garden or allotment big enough to accommodate hives.

We did a quiz at the end of the session to see who had been listening and although there was a time during the evening when the grunting of the karate class in the next room was a bit distracting - we all seemed to do quite well (self marking).

Can't wait for the next session.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

USA News Link

I just got an email from a friend Anny, who lives in America. She sent a link to an article In The New York Times about research into what is killing honeybees in USA.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

In The News

Bee are in the news today:


So, things are being done for the rare bumblebees of UK (with reference to the bbc article please see points 1 and 2 in blog entry below 'Proposal')


So, I've spent the spring and summer at Yorkshire Sculpture Park researching the subject of bees. In that time i've been constantly thinking of how to translate all the information gathered and reveal my findings.

YSP is 500 acres in size - mainly grazed areas, with woodland around the lake and some arable. The house has virtually no formal planting schemes anymore - but there is a couple of boarders near the YSP info centre planted with shrubs. Being on the site all spring and summer made me realise that habitat for bees is very scarce and usually by coincidence (i.e nothing is deliberately planted with wildlife in mind). The size of YSP could accommodate a wider range of habitats that are highly valuable to bees (and therefor for other insects, butterflies and moths, birds and small mammals etc too) and also to the visiting public who come to experience and enjoy the surroundings.

With everything i found during the research i decided to propose a planting scheme that will redress this unbalance within the YSP landscape and that will have a visual impact on the site.

So, my idea for the future of the Bee Project is that two meadows, each an acre in size, will be planted on the YSP grounds. One will be made up entirely of yellow flowering plants and the other entirely of blue flowering plants. The two meadows will be an acre each to help make a difference to the local populations of bumblebees, solitary bees and also to honey bees in the area.

Almost every inch of land in UK has a financial value and this limits the usage that a landowner is prepared to manage it for. Why would you plant an area with wild flowers for bees with no financial gain when you can rent the land out for grazing or plant consumable crops and earn money?

To set land aside purely for the benefit of wildlife, a landowner would have to be one of the following:

1) a conservation charity / organisation supported by donations / funds to cover the costs

2) paid by someone else (usually the government) for the loss of value

3) rich with lots of land and lots of money and a passion for wildlife (possibly only Prince Charles fits into this category)

4) brave / bonkers (see above)

We are all aware of the threat to bees from the loss of habitat, but who is prepared to do anything about it?

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Ivor the bee keeper wasn't able to make it the last time I was at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I miss him being around to ask loads of questions (usually the same ones every time) and I always feel more confident with the bees when he's there. I noticed the entrance of the hives had new guards on them so i emailed Ivor to ask their use. He replied saying that they were put on to limit the entrance size and to help the bees defend against wasps.

While i was there I did notice masses of dead wasps on the ground around the entrance of the hives - so the bees are defending themselves ok. I collected all the dead wasps for the collection - they are in a box - it really stinks.

In his email he also mentioned he'd taken some honey off and also started feeding the bees for winter. I can't wait to try the honey - the taste of YSP.