Visit to BuzzWorks, Hitchin’s Community Bee Garden

by Clive Hill, High Wycombe & District BKA

On 13th June, eighteen HWBKA members visited “Buzzworks”, which Robin Dartington has established at Hitchin, Herts. It has an interesting location: with an Allotment site of many acres in front and a stream, then a large wood, behind it. More rural than suburban, but on the edge of a large town. Our aim was to see the present status of Buzzworks and to see Dartington Long Deep hives in use.

Robin and his small team greeted us and let us look round. The team included Christine Gray, the BBKA’s Hon. Press officer, in charge of catering. Robin explained how Buzzworks was started and is fast becoming active as a Bee Education resource. They have a small number of very smart buildings, a lovely but very new garden; and a very effective apiary stocked with Dartington hives – see for yourself, in the accompanying photos.

We donned Bee-suits, then went into the apiary, where Scott Rutland, Julian Parker and Raymond Chamberlin led small groups examining the bees. It was a warm dry afternoon.

The bees were working hard and very docile. Meanwhile, Robin kept up a running commentary and joined in the fun! Although they seemed very bulky, the hives were a dream to use – with everything at a good working height, well designed and very accessible. We had an enjoyable, instructive and very hands-on afternoon.

The many beginners amongst us must have gained a great deal from the event and at least two of them bought a competitively priced nucleus colony to take home.

Following the apiary work we were provided with a light tea, which included slices of delicious Cherry Cake, made with Ivy Honey. I was very pleasantly surprised, because I hate the smell or taste of this honey when the bees bring it back in the autumn! Bob Hunter, our Chairman thanked Robin for our making us so welcome, our really interesting afternoon; and thanked Christine for the lovely food.

As an educational establishment, Buzzworks is still finding it’s feet. They have already started taking school parties: but still need to develop their display material. There are many parallels with the way HWBKA has developed it’s School Visits and educational displays. Christine Gray was able to built a very useful contact with our Sylvia Chamberlin, who has led the BBKA’s work in the field of Bees in the Curriculum.

Many thanks to Robin and his team of volunteers; and to Julian Parker, who had organised our visit. HWBKA will make a donation to Buzzworks as thanks: and our education knowhow can also be available to them.

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