This year has been yet another busy one, filled with bees, heatwaves and a headline or two!
To begin with, in April we were able to do a basic head count of honey bee hives that we believed had survived the winter and we are so proud to report losses of only 12% over the 2017/2018 winter which is below the reported national average of 13.2%. We believe the colonies that we did lose were lost through wasps invading and picking off bees in late Autumn – something we unfortunately can’t do much about.
As Spring came about, we begin to kick off the start of our Beekeeping Projects, at the University of Central Lancashire and Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre. Beginning with our Introduction to Beekeeping course and then putting our budding beekeepers through a long, glorious summer of hive inspections and monitoring, we’ve now got two thriving apiaries and 12 Beekeepers qualified through our externally accredited Apiculture Level 1 course. Next Spring, both groups will be starting on Apiculture Level 2, a course that will teach them all about Queen Rearing, Swarm Collecting and Honey Harvesting.
Bees and Pest Control
During this time, we were still getting our numerous calls for bee removal, for which we’re always happy to help with. With the summer being so long and hot, the call numbers we were receiving were much higher than the years previously, with many coming from professional Pest Controllers who were struggling to know exactly how to handle the increase in Bee calls. This is something we had predicted would happen and so in Winter 17/18 we had held meetings with the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) and with their help, set up BeeWise, a special interest group for the pest control industry, allowing us to meet with professionals from both big and small companies and put our heads together on how to help pest controllers tackle and deal with an increase in phone calls in regards to bees.
As a result of this, Tree Bee have decided to use our knowledge of the pest control industry, coupled with our extensive knowledge of bees, beekeeping and the environment, to deliver a course externally accredited with UK Rural Skills, to the pest control industry to improve the knowledge base of technicians so they are able to make informed decisions when their customers call them to deal with bees on their properties. We have been promoting this course throughout the year, not only with the BPCA, but also the NPTA and the response from all has been overwhelmingly positive. The first course is due to go ahead in partnership with the BPCA on the 4th of February 2019 with additional dates being added throughout the year.
Tree Bee in the News!
Our knowledge of bees has also had us called upon by the news cameras again this year, when BBC Northwest Tonight wished to speak with a Bee Expert at UCLan after hearing of their project with us. The interview was only shown for 2 minutes, but Abi spent about 4-5 hours filming in the walled garden at UCLan’s Westleigh Centre! We hit the news again in September 2018 after carrying out a really large removal at NHS Fulbourn in Cambridge for SERCO. The video on our Facebook page received over 30K views and our story was shared over the BBC, ITV and even international news sources! Any news coverage is great for us as a not-for-profit as it really helps push bee conservation to the forefront of people’s minds.
Heatwaves and Hives
The heatwave this year was quite a shock to us, however it did extend the beekeeping season for about a month or two longer than it would have normally gone on. It was both a blessing and a curse, with more pollen coming into the hives than ever before, but an unfortunate lack of nectar (due to flowers not receiving water). This has a worrying affect on honey production and egg laying of Queens, though we’re happy to announce that the bees pulled through and any colonies weakened by the heat (or the wasps!) will be receiving extra attention this Winter.
This year, we kicked off our Beekeeping Taster Sessions, which have proven very popular! They’re a great way to be a beekeeper for an afternoon and see if taking up beekeeping is for you! If you’re looking for a new experience next summer, take a look at our website or get in touch!
We have also been busy at Burscough Wharf this year, where Abi and Chris have been setting up a stall with the Artisan Network every other Saturday, selling our honey and hand creams. The response from you all has been fantastic and we’re really looking forward to carrying on next year when the markets open back up in May.
Finally, I’d just like to say a massive Thank You to you, our customers and supporters for all your help and backing this year. I suppose all there is left to say is that from the team here at Tree Bee, a massive Merry Christmas and a Fantastic New Year!