BuzzWorks - Hitchin Bee Centre by Robin Dartington

The group continues to meet each Saturday to build the Bee Centre – joined now by John Symes, bringing us to six regulars drawn from Stotfold in the north down to Barnet in the south. There is always a job to do!

Eight colonies are set aside for the move. Somewhat disturbingly however, three of my colonies (of 20) have dwindled to nothing since supers were removed in August, leaving combs full of winter stores but only a fistful of bees and a small patch of sealed brood. These are similar symptoms to those for CCD as reported in US. Let us hope it is some minor local problem, not indication of a major problem in Hertfordshire.

The site plan develops steadily, each revision getting us closer to a convenient and economical layout. WREN only grant projects open to the whole public at least 104 days a year. As mentioned earlier, the Plant Nursery failed the test – so its public availability has been upgraded to allow visitors to plant seeds of bee plants that they can later plant out in the garden. Some children, especially flat dwellers, have no opportunity to garden in any way and can miss out on a vital experience while growing up. A smaller area is still provided as the service area (eg dustbins). The Demonstration Platform is now proposed as a Market for sale of both honey and allotment surpluses, strengthening the bond with the allotment gardeners. The museum is upgraded to a ‘Discovery Centre’ – ambitious, as designing an interactive bee gallery will take more time and a further grant but fun to do and it will turn the site into a true ‘visitor attraction’.

Success with the grant depends crucially on showing wide support from the general public, in addition to specific groups such as schools and beekeepers. So a petition has been launched in Hitchin’s historic Market Place on Apple Day. Leafleting 200 nearby homes attracted the local herbalist and a special needs teacher to offer help over approaching the church and Guides groups – one step leads to another. Local shops, community centres and schools will also be asked to collect names from visitors / parents.

We would now like to ask Hertfordshire beekeepers to express individual support by signing the petition at winter meetings. We are not asking anyone for money, only support for opening the site to the public in 2008. If preferred, please email saying simply: ‘I support opening ‘BuzzWorks’ in 2008’ and giving your name and address. The Brochure is available by email or post for anyone who wants to check the details of the current proposal and the Site Plan is shown below.

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