One of our Christmas presents from Karin’s son (my stepson) Oli and his girlfriend Kate was an “experience” – a chance to spend half a day with an urban beekeeping collective in London called Bee Urban. The group has a partnership with Hiver Beer which uses its honey in its brewing, and we were promised a tasting session. Bees, beer, London – what’s not to like? Karin and I finally made the trip down to Kennington yesterday and it was a really enjoyable experience, highly recommended. I know a little bit about beekeeping but it was great to see a small professional apiary at work and to take part in a hive examination. It certainly deepened my appreciation of these remarkable insects. It also made me think about having a hive or two when I retire and have the time to devote to the hobby – beekeeping is not to be entered into lightly! However there’s a time and a place for honeybees: in the wrong setting they can be a conservation problem by negatively affecting plant reproduction, out-competing native bees and passing on their diseases to bumblebees.
Bee Urban, however, is also doing its bit for wild bees in London by providing opportunities, such as drilled logs, for cavity nesting species. We saw lots of evidence that leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.) and those that seal their nests with mud (various genera) were taking advantage of these nesting sites.
Interestingly, one of the other attendees said at the outset that she was very scared of bees. I asked her afterwards if seeing beekeeping up close had helped and she said it had. Perhaps this is something that you could do with any insectophobes in your life?
The beer was great, by the way, also highly recommended!
Below are some pictures from the day. Thanks to Lena and Barnaby for hosting us and making it such an enjoyable experience.
When she saw this picture, Karin likened it to cult devotees attending a ritual – “All Hail the Bee Goddess!”:
Karin and I get up close and personal with the bees:
A real highlight of the day – seeing the queen of this hive (marked in red):
Yum! – :
Drilled logs being used by leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.):