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Friday, 1st Feb 2019
The forgotten county
By Tim Porter
Stones in his pockets
Wednesday 24th April 2019
Next theatre trip ......
There was a certain 'buzz' amongst the audience inside St. Edward’s Hall on the evening of 3rd June 2016 at our last Open Meeting of the season.
Our speaker, Keren Green, a bee farmer from near Upton-on-Severn in Worcestershire, explained how her involvement in beekeeping came about. She read an article on honey bees which fired her imagination, joined a local evening class, then joined her local beekeeping association, got her first colony of bees ......... and has never looked back! Some 10 years later she now manages 80 colonies spread throughout the 3 counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. With her husband she teaches beekeeping to beginners and improvers. She also runs her own bee farming and honey producing business, supplying honey to local outlets and National Trust properties. And then in 2012 she got “the job of my dreams” – that of a Seasonal Bee Inspector for the National Bee Unit within DEFRA.
It wasn’t surprising to learn from Keren, therefore, that her workload over the year was immense and she now only takes a holiday in the winter months. Her honey crop has 2 harvests, the end of May and end of July each year. And then when she mentioned there would be 50,000-60,000 bees in any 1 colony by June, we could begin to understand why bees and beekeeping dominate her summer!
Dressed in her beekeeping outfit (or “onesie” as she described it!) throughout her talk and passing her beekeeping equipment around the audience, ranging from ‘the smoker’, the hive tool and various frames from inside a modern hive, she explained the intricacies, delight (and sometimes danger) of beekeeping and introduced us to the different types of bees, their purpose in the cycle of a hive and the dangers they face in today’s UK environment from the Varroa parasite mite from Asia to pesticides used in agriculture. Many facts were discovered by our members during the course of the evening. For instance, did you know there were approx 25,000 different species of bees around the world, 270 of which are found in the UK, together with 26 species of bumblebee? Honeybees fly on average over a 3 mile radius to collect nectar or pollen and perform a carefully choreographed “waggle dance” to instruct the rest of the hive where to find the richest food source. One single bee usually visits approx 1,000 flowerheads per day to collect pollen. An average hive can produce about 30 lbs of honey per season. A nucleus of bees (approx half a colony) can cost from around £200. The UK is the only country with a government department dedicated to bees!
By the end of her talk members were in full admiration of Keren’s comprehensive knowledge, understanding, dedication, enthusiasm and obvious total enjoyment gained from her varied roles within the world of beekeeping.
Those of us visiting Croome Court next month now know that Keren manages about 12 hives on the estate with honey harvested from those hives sold in the Croome Court National Trust shop. Closer to home, however, many of us now know we will have sampled her honey when purchasing from Snowshill Manor – and many of us left St. Edward’s Hall that evening after her talk clutching precious jars of her golden, delicious honey!
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have 4 years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
Our speaker, Keren Green, agreed that no-one could be certain this quotation was actually made by Albert Einstein – but the importance of bees to the environment was manifest.
Our speaker, Keren Green