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Youlgrave Bee Group update (Dec 2010)

Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Youlgrave Bee Group, saving local honey bees

Youlgrave Bee Group is coming to the end of its first, and very successful, year of existence. Over that time a core of 13 beekeepers has been trained, an apiary established and three colonies of bees hived and cherished. The bees are now in their quiet winter state, eating the honey they’ve stored and surviving until nectar and pollen becomes available again next spring. Meanwhile, the bee group is preparing for a busy time in 2011, and four members of the group now have their own bee colonies to care for. The whole valley should soon feel the positive effects of higher pollination levels, but part of the Bee Group’s aim is also that local residents should be encouraged to plant bee-friendly gardens, trees, hedgerows and fields to provide top quality bee food. In this way everyone in the Bradford Valley can be part of the Bee Group, and over the coming years the local environment can be improved for all sorts of useful insects to increase its bio-diversity. The added bonus is that by next summer, hopefully, there will be Youlgrave honey on sale at the Village Market! If you are interested in being part of this ongoing programme, either training for bee-keeping in 2011, or encouraging bee-friendly planting, please contact Jeni Edwards on 01629 636550.

So what do bees do in winter?

Bees do not hibernate in winter. Having prepared their stores, the queen stops laying and when temperatures fall to 18 degrees C, they form a cluster to keep themselves warm. At 13 degrees C, every bee is included, and as the temperature falls lower, the cluster becomes tighter, until eventually they become one solid, still mass. When we have a warmer winter day the cluster loosens and they will feed from their stores. When it is sunny and warm they may venture out.

Following the robbing of all our hives by the ‘naughty ‘wasps, - we caught over 2000 in jars - our bees have been working very hard storing the sugar solution we fed them, and now have the normal weight of stores we would expect. We left hive 1 in Matlock till the Spring. And now they have been treated for diseases and protected from vermin invasion (everyone likes honey!), we check and don’t touch till Spring.

Youlgrave Fruit Growers - latest

A group has been active in cultivating the rest of the Coldwell End allotment, alongside the apiary site, where there is room for a small orchard of top fruit trees and soft fruit bushes. This is just the beginning. Everyone can be a fruit grower, from planting strawberries or blueberries in pots, to planting all sorts of things on a larger scale. One local garden of only about nine square yards (about 7.5 square metres) successfully grows 12 different kinds of fruit! There’s nothing to match the taste of home-grown fruit, straight from the plant. No supermarket packaging, no wilting through storage, no air miles – just flavour and satisfaction. Producing, picking, preserving, pruning... could we become a self-sufficient village, growing all our own fruit?* Now, there’s a challenge! If you would like to know more or get involved contact Glenys Moore on 01629 636477.

*Who knows, if a local anaerobic digester gets going there may be enough heat as a by-product to set up a greenhouse to grow bananas – well, one can dream...

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