Bees’ Needs Week 9 – 17th July
There seems to be a week for everything these days, some more bizarre than others, but it was a coincidence that as I was writing this guiding update that I received an email from The Wildlife Trust informing me that it was Bees’ Needs Week from the 9 – 17th July. With bees on the decline and essential for pollination they are encouraging people to do the following in their garden
Imagine a world with no flowers, fruit, no chocolate, or coffee even! All of these things are here thanks to the hard work of our bees and other pollinators, spreading pollen from flower to flower. But our native pollinators are in decline and a loss of pollination will have a detrimental affect on everyone. They are valued by you, the public and play a vital role in the production of the food and drinks that we consume. Insect pollinators matter.
One of the best things about volunteering with youth groups like Girl Guiding is that you get to be a kid again and broaden your horizons. In our quest to find unusual things for the Rainbow and Brownies we have spent time this term in a -18 degree freezer on The Farm to Fork tour and met Mr Froggy whilst pond dipping in the torrential rain at the Gosforth Wildlife Trust. When one of our parent helpers Anna mentioned she could organise a tour to the bee hives which live in the grounds of her office on the Newburn Riverside we jumped at the chance. After all, without the awesome bee, nature and farming cannot happen.
Anna explained that the bees hives were installed in Stella House in the grounds of NHS Business offices as part of a biodiversity project which is aiming to off-set it’s carbon footprint. Staff from Stella House have attended bee keeping courses to be part of the volunteer team. This seems like a fantastic idea and we were all excited about going down and learning more about the project.
Honey Tasting and Bee Crafts
To set the scene for our mini-topic we decided to organise a night of honey goodness. Rainbows baked honey biscuits and Brownies baked honey and lemon cupcakes. Both went down a treat and was so impressed at the enthusiasm of the brownies to wash up afterwards. This bodes well for pack holiday in March!!
The second part of the night we tasted 3 types of honey-Acacia honey, Spanish forest honey and a local honey from Chainbridge Farm just outside of Berwick. I will be honest and say i’m not a massive fan of honey but I did partake and was surprised just how different they taste depending on what plants the bees live on. We did a quick poll to see which ones they preferred and it was pretty split. The Spanish forest honey won it for me as it was quite maple syrup-y in consistency and sweetness.
For our next session we went all Blue Peter, taking an empty toilet roll tube, crepe paper, glue and some Goggly eyes and turned them into cute bees. It’s been a while since we did any craft (it’s not my favourite thing I’ll not lie and I get stuck for ideas) but this craft was perfectly pitched for the girls and took a good half an hour to complete. they were pleased at the results. Good old Pinterest came up trumps this time!
Bee Hive Visit
We rocked up en mass at Stella House, signed in and split up into two groups. Whilst one group went outside to check out the bees the others completed a worksheet and did more honey testing.
The girls (and leaders) who visited the hives got kitted up in their fetching bee keeping suits and then went right up to the hive. Mel, the volunteer who led the session, taught the girls to not to stand in front of the hive entrance and not to wear anything furry while dealing with bees or they think you are a bear. Some of the girls even held the comb covered in bees! Very brave!
The girls got up close to the hive and identified the bees with yellow pollen on their back legs from collecting nectar. Did you know that the male bees get the menial jobs and then get kicked out of the hive come winter? Girls rule in this hive!
Unfortunately not all the girls got the chance to get up and close with the bees due to a limit on time and number of bee keeping suits and we will return to spend more time down here in the future.