A year has passed since the last progress report on developing BuzzWorks, Hitchin's Community Bee Garden. We had then started to spend the £25,000 construction grant from WREN and the water supply was in, the huge poplars reduced to half height and the log cabin for the Discovery Centre erected. The construction phase ended last November with the Bee Flower Garden built and planted by Sam Thomas, and the Demonstration Shelter, General Store and Compost Toilet built by Brian Fairey and Peter Bracey.
The framework for an educational exhibition on the world of bees has been installed in the Discovery Centre by our sponsor, Jordans Cereals, including splendid observation hive holding four 14x12 frames. Hexagonal frames (595 high by 520mm wide) hold 68 full and half-sized information panels - these now need to be re-worked to increase the educational content so that local schools can use the site for topic teaching themed on bees at Key Stage 2. The panels are arranged in 7 chapters, the importance of bees, where you find bees, anatomy, the bees’ nest, pollination, products of the hive and current problems facing bees.
BuzzWorks works in partnership with North Herts District Council who won us a Green Apple Regional Gold Environmental Award in 2009. This is a national scheme and we are told competition is strong, so winning even before we are complete was encouraging.
Work in 2010 will focus on devising video clips, models, microscope slides, quiz sheets, games, cabinet displays and further information folders plus colouring sheets to allow children of all ages to engage fully with the information available across the whole site. A £1,000 grant has been obtained from the county council Locality Budget for a feasibility study prior to full design and production under another grant - we are applying for £10,000 from Awards-4-All towards the £16,500 we estimate is still needed to make BuzzWorks fully fit-for-use as a museum open to the public.
The hives at BuzzWorks thrived in 2009 perhaps a little too well. The number of colonies has swelled to 10 plus 4 nucs, more than the site limit of 8 – despite selling 4 nucs at attractive prices. The apiary is both crowded and unsuitable for giving the public more than a first experience of a beehive. So we have obtained another site from the council, a ? acre of derelict allotments for HoneyWorks Beekeeping Training Centre. The first job has been to clear 1/3 acre of trees. The core group of 7 BuzzWorks members has swollen to a list of 25 volunteers who can be called on to help. In addition, local tree surgeons donated 3 days, the Probation Service has used the site for training and the volunteer force from the adjoining Nature Reserve cut & laid a hedge on the common boundary. Now we need to drag out roots, scoop a large pond, plant hedges and sow with wildflowers – hopefully with a grant from Fiskars Orange Thumb. The apiary will take 20 hives of various sorts, some from BuzzWorks, some rather derelict spares, three free samples from hive suppliers (including an Omlet beehaus), two already made for us by the Probation Service workshop and private hives brought temporarily to site by newbys. We will start some sort of training this summer – it will all keep us busy. Adding the Picnic Area, the Training Building, Store, Apiary Shed, Toilet and Gazebo as the heart of an open-air exhibition of beekeeping through the ages will have to wait – one thing at a time.
The invitation to anyone interested in joining/contributing to any of the work remains open……