Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published March 20th 2016
Volunteering Can Bee a Buzz
Our bees are having a tough time of late. What with foreign parasites and farmers' pesticides, the beed population has seen a dramatic decline in recent years. That is not only bad for the bees, but it is bad for us as well. If bees were to disappear from our landscape, it isn't just honey we'd have to live without. We would lose so many vital foods and medicines because of a severe lack of plant pollination.
That is why there are so many campaigns trying to save bees, from the protest of pesticides to creating suitable habitats. Surprisingly, it is actually city bees that are faring better through all this, and BeeUrban is just one of the many reasons why.
BeeUrban is a social enterprise that aims to 'positively influence the urban environment through supporting local people and promoting positive, ecologically sound practice around urban greening, building, farming and particularly bee-keeping.' Their main base is in Kennington Park, but they also work in Camberwell Subterranea. Both of the sites that they occupy were once derelict spaces, but dedication and community spirit they have been turned into environmentally friendly, horticulturally rich areas.
Last weekend I went to one of their open days to learn more about the project and the opportunities available. 'The Lodge' was easy to find; it is just behind Kennington Park's cafe, and I was guided by reggae music and smoke from their stone baking oven, which was being used to make free pizza for all visitors.
They have an attractive urban garden made up of raised flowerbed, full of plants specifically chosen for optimal bee satisfaction. You can buy a variety of these potted herbs for your own garden or just take a helpful booklet that explains which plants are best for bees and why. For example, ones that produce plant or pollen and are flowering during the months when bees are most in need of nectar and pollen. Included in this extensive list are geraniums, bluebells, lupin, foxglove, monkshood, and borage.
I learnt a lot of interesting facts from reading the visually informative posters, such as how to tell the difference between different types of bees (the queen, workers, drones) and different species (bumble, honey, mining). There was also guidance for anyone considering making and selling their own honey. Of course, if you want to make your own honey, then you need bees. BeeUrban run regular workshops for people who want to learn about beekeeping. Other services they provide include cycle surgeries, and creative sessions on gardening, carpentry, up-cycling, plumbing, electrics, painting and mosaic actives. All of these are free; the next dates at Camberwell Subterranean are:
From a blurb I had read in an events booklet, I was under the impression that the open day I attended would be demonstrating similar activities, such as baking bread in the stone oven, rolling candles, and seeing the apiaries, but I was disappointed to find none of that going on. It was more a day just for collating information.
As well as BeeUrban giving the community fulfilling educational experiences, you can also give back to BeeUrban by becoming a volunteer. You don't have to register or commit to a set number of hours, but simply turn up at Kennington Park Lodge, where open volunteering days are held every Thursday between 10am - 4pm.