When bees to distance wing their flight
Days are warm and skies are bright
When bees crowd into the hive again
It’s a sure sign of storms and rain
Thanks to a concessionary grant from a Ward Improvement Initiative Scheme organised by Councillor Leslie Winters, and the cooperation of the Countryside Management Service, the apiary at Fishers Field was set up in the spring of 2013. Security measures and regular monitoring by the Friends had to be increased after initial vandalism occurred but the honeybees settled in well. Starting with one hive, they have now become two hives and a small ‘nursery’ hive called a nucleus. They are clearly happy to be pollinating the plants and trees in Fishers Field and the surrounding area. Last year their honey crop was not gathered but left on the hive in order to supplement their winter food stores.
In any case, our primary motivation is not merely to collect honey. In the UK and internationally the hives managed by commercial and amateur beekeepers alike are dying as honeybees continue to suffer from a complex interaction of damaging factors such as disease, environmental pollution, pesticides and intensive apiculture. These issues are said to be the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder around the world. In the UK wild honeybees are already almost extinct. If the numbers of honeybees from managed hives become depleted even further as a result of Colony Collapse Disorder, pollination will be devastated.
Foods we have taken for granted such as apples, oranges, soft fruit, almonds, peaches, bananas and many vegetables including leafy greens, carrots, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes, as well as industrial crops such as coffee, cocoa, sugarcane, cotton and rapeseed oil will disappear if they have not been pollinated. Animals that eat bee-pollinated pasture plants such as clover and alfalfa, could not survive long without them. Many medicines including morphine and its many derivatives are obtained from bee-pollinated plants. These would no longer be available and synthetic substitutes would be hugely expensive.
Pollination by hand or machine is immensely difficult and labour-intensive work which is probably impossible on a global scale. There are some other insects able to pollinate such as bumblebees, but honeybees carry out the majority of the task and are by far the most efficient pollinators.
The Fishers Field Apiary Project is our attempt to contribute to worldwide efforts to stabilise and restore the honeybee population that is so vital to human life.