On 18th June I went to St Frideswide’s church to represent ONBG and help with the bee festival. I’d heard about it through a friend and I owed the vicar a favour so thought I ought to help.
Fortunately, Paul had lent me plenty of kit the day before otherwise I would have had very little to share with them. I set up my table, under the gazebo provided, and I was busy from the beginning.
I placed the empty Warré hive and skep on the table and posed the TBH nuc on the ground, where it would be handy for people to look into it. The rest of the visual aids were handy to share and Paul had some photographs which I was able to display; I felt more confident that, if I dried up, I’d be able to refer to them. I also took my smoker and hive tool but only to point out that I’d never actually used either, so far; and that OxNat-type beeks don’t use either very much, if at all.
I had, as an example, a frame for a National hive which I’d assembled on my beginners’ course, and which I was able to demonstrate the difference between the types of hives which are commonly used. Also it let me explain why the foundation with which nationals are already provided is not as good as the bees simply drawing out comb for themselves in a natural hive.
I also took a couple of diagrams of bee development and pictures I’d downloaded from the web, just in case anyone asked me any tricky questions.
In fact, I didn’t need them as the top bar with a queen cell visible was of great interest to visitors to the stall. That allowed me to explain about “natural” views on swarming, queen supersedure, queen clipping, yuk!
The visitors to the stall were keen to hold the comb and realise the lightness of comb compared to the denser block of beeswax. Having a little tin of pungent propolis was great, as passing it around while explaining about the bees sealing their hive with it, and us baiting a hive, meant that the visitors had a good way of experiencing it for themselves.
Very few of the children present wanted to try on a bee veil so I left them out for the people to see. One little girl was happy to wear it and posed for a picture; but took the veil off first!
A woman showed great interest and took our email, saying that she would like someone to visit her school to talk about beekeeping. Several people showed some enthusiasm and took cards or leaflets with the group’s details, so we may get some contacts with queries. All in all it was a very interesting occasion.
If we go again (and the church secretary said she would contact again in time for next year) it would be good to have someone alongside with greater knowledge than me. But I think I got away with it: beginner’s luck!