In 2015 the theme for the RHS Britain in Bloom Competition was Pollinators. Being part of the Halesowen in Bloom committee, it seemed a readymade opportunity to take up beekeeping. Visits to Highbury Park, joining the B&DBKA and going to Winterbourne Gardens followed. A hive was purchased from a retiring beekeeper and was set up in a fairly remote and unused church hall walled garden. A local beekeeper offered a six frame NUC of bees, having first inspected the hive and location. So in June 2015 everything was up and running!
The Local Primary School had shown an interest, but the best I could offer was to show them the working hive, from a distance and the safety of the back door to the hall. The following year I gained a lot more experience from working with the bees and beekeepers and I discovered the Observation Hive. This enabled the bees to be shown up close. My talk still consists of a short DVD on the History of the Honey Bee and the Working of the Hive followed by making up a basic hive from the various individual parts. Then all we need are some bees and the front plywood panel of the Observation Hive is taken off. The surprised look on the faces of the children and adults together with their questions is worth getting up early to sort out a frame of brood in all stages and the marked queen. Two frames of stores with open nectar and sealed honey complete the Observation Hive. The Halesowen in Bloom RHS Judging Day takes place every July in St John’s Church, an 11th Century Grade 1 Listed Building. The location of the hives moved to Leasowes Walled Garden some years ago, but the Observation Hive is as popular as ever with children and adults alike.
By Ken Rudge