What could we be doing for bees in London?
‘I am often asked about what planting individuals could establish for bees across the capital. Honey bees especially love mature trees as a nectar source. Limes and acacias are particularly important but sycamores, chestnuts, hawthorns and blackthorns are good too, however although the planting of these is an essential thing, they do not provide instant bee fodder.’
What should we be planting?
‘I recommend early pollen sources such as crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells which are excellent early pollen yielders, pollen is rich in protein and fantastic for young bee growth. The autumn is also a key time, with ivy and buddleia providing late nectar flows, allowing the colony to build up for the barren months ahead. London is 65% green space but I believe there could be greater nectar sources and safe havens.’
What if I don’t have a garden?
‘If, like me, you have no garden or roof terrace, then I’d like to introduce to you “guerilla gardening”. Have you ever thought that your local roundabout looked a little shabby or a local patch of wasteland needs beautifying? If so, just grab some wild flower seeds and scatter. We have just started selling bee bombs here at Bee HQ. When soaked they resemble a soil hand grenade and are fantastic as they contain everything you will need to start your own little wild flower patch – just soak and chuck.
‘You could also persuade your local park or open space to reduce or stop their use of pesticide – the cumulative affect on bees is now well proven and catastrophic. There is a real move to make London free of these terrors, like Paris already is, and the sooner it happens the better. Persuading local authorities to make everything less manicured is also important, not only for bees but other wildlife such as butterflies. Long grasses are a haven and can also look wonderful. I passed Blackheath common the other morning and it had the most amazing white clover covering it… two days later it was fully trimmed! Finally, it’s been a terrible year for honey production in the UK so where possible try and buy local or British honey.’ Sonya Barber
For info about Steve, see thelondonhoneycompany.co.uk
WATCH: But Live It Slant
by Charlotte Heikendorf
‘But Live It Slant’ is a short film about how we connect to the environment, set in an apiary in London. The film looks at the role bees can play in the lives of human, seen through the eyes of two urban beekeepers.
Urban bee-keeping talk at Petersham Nurseries
The buzz around urban beekeeping
London’s Jewish Community Centre is doing its bit to ensure a sweet new year with a campaign to promote urban Jewish beekeeping. Community members are being encouraged to run their own hives to combat a dramatic decline in honey bee populations…
“I have always been fascinated by the bee world,” she said. “But it’s not like chickens where all you need is some space and some grain. I’m so grateful this opportunity came up.”
Alison Benjamin, who runs the course with Brian McCallum, said: “It’s really important to start keeping bees in cities, there’s more of a diversity of flowers and plants. You can taste that in the honey. In the country, there are fields and fields of the same crop. In a city it’s warmer and more sheltered.
“Bees can also be great for community cohesion. Some schools in south-east London have used beekeeping as a way of keeping kids calm because you have to be very careful and thoughtful when dealing with bees.”
New North London Synagogue also has plans for a hive of its own.”We think it’s a great way to bring people together and teach important lessons around sustainability that are rooted in our faith,” said executive director Claire Mandel.
Billboard poster design for the plight of the honey beeeee
My Revolution. Saving bees in Central London.
Urban beekeeping is increasingly popular around the world, with many cities lifting bans on inner-city beehives. London, in particular, has made a name for itself as a haven for urban beekeeping—even if some beekeepers are skeptical about the city’s efforts to fund inexperienced bee enthusiasts. It’s not just the city government that is stepping in to support London’s bee population either—in fact a major corporate-sponsored program is helping would-be beekeepers to learn the skills they need…
From supporting research into Colony Collapse Disorder, through distributing wildflower seeds to customers and its own farmers alike, to providing direct funding and support for amateur beekeepers, this initiative always looked like a major step beyond your average corporate outreach effort. The video below would seem to confirm this, visiting urban beekeepers who have directly benefited from the Cooperative Group’s support.
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