Friends of Belper Parks Ltd


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Where have all the bees gone?

Belper Parks is not immune to the decline in bees and butterflies which the Friends had noticed more than two years ago. Whereas the Friends cannot do anything about the national causes of the decline, we can do something about it locally. The reason why the Friends wanted to make Coppice Field a wildflower meadow back in 2005 was to provide habitat for many wild animals, including bees and butterflies.

Initially this worked very well, but the bee and butterfly populations in the Parks have declined in the last two to three years due to cold and wet summers. Having already followed DEFRA’s five points, the Friends decided something else needed to be done about it so they sent the Chairman on a beekeeping course, and then raised £1,100 to cover the cost of two hives, a colony of bees and the basic equipment needed to keep bees. The second hive provides parts for the first hive and provides a home for when our bees swarm next summer. We are now on a steep upward learning curve as beekeeping is not a straight forward occupation.

Our first colony of bees decided they didn’t like our brand new hives and left after a few days. The second colony was a cast (a swarm of bees without a queen) which had invaded the compost bins of a member of the Friends. Not knowing where they came from or what diseases they might be carrying, we took them to a remote part of Wyver Lane and left them there.

A week or so later we were offered and bought a complete colony of bees on frames, which we transferred from the sellers Hive into our hive, complete with a marked mated Queen.

The bees are now very much at home, flying out in the Parks, whenever it isn’t raining, to collect nectar, pollen, propalis and water, the four essentials of a bees diet and life. Our bees produced 30 lb of honey plus stores for the winter.

Our bees produced a total of 30 lbs of honey for FoBP this year plus some had been taken off by their previous “owner”. January 2017 edition of BBKA News survey says the average in the East of England is 31.3 lbs and in the Midlands the average is 23.9 lbs. Our bees were therefore doing very well.

Upper picture: Honey Bee gathering nectar     Lower Picture: Our hive in a secluded part of Belper Parks

There has been a steady decline in the bee population nationally according to DEFRA (Dept. for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs).  

In the last 10 years, beekeepers in Britain, Europe and north America have lost about a third of their managed bee colonies. Bee species that are selective in their flower-visiting habits or require special types of nesting sites are especially vulnerable.

DEFRA is urging gardeners to cut the grass less often and grow more nectar-rich flowers to help boost the UK’s declining bee population. There are five steps we can all take to help bees whose pollinating services are worth £600 million a year to the British economy by boosting yields and the quality of seeds and fruits.

1) You can grow more flowers 2) Leave patches of land to grow wild 3) Cut grass less often 4) Avoid disturbing hibernating insects

5) Think very carefully about whether you need to use pesticides or not.

Paul de Zylva senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth said “At home, in your street, at work or at school, you can help the 250 or more different species of bee by growing the right plants , improving local spaces for pollinators and avoiding pesticides. Simple actions that can make sure we are the generation to save Britain’s bees.”

What are the Friends of Belper Parks doing to help our bee population?