It’s been over two years since our bees arrived on 15 June 2010 and so I think now is a good time to update you on how they’re doing and also, for those of you who haven’t met them, to get to know them.
Our hive was one of eight installed in the City as part of The City of London Festival 2010. This project aimed to encourage beekeeping in urban locations as there has been a dramatic and ongoing decline in bee numbers since the 1960s – three bumblebee species have already become extinct in Britain. The drop in numbers is being caused by a range of different factors, including climate change, disease, changes in habitats and use of pesticides.
You may be aware of the theory that says that if bees disappear from the surface of the earth we will have no longer than four years to live. Bees pollinate 75% of crops and so have a massive impact on our food supplies, our environment and ultimately our economy. It is estimated it would cost UK farmers an extra £1.8 billion a year to pollinate their crops artificially.
At the Museum of London we have a team of four beekeepers who help maintain a healthy beehive in the Museum’s Courtyard Garden and who also spread the word about honey bees and inspire our visitors to get involved in beekeeping.
Last July, the first batch of honey was harvested from our hive. Sadly, last winter was bad for bees all over Britain and we had lost a significant proportion of our colony by April – victim to the verroa mite. After some treatment, TLC and support from Peter, a member of The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers , we managed to revitalise our colony and it has been going from strength to strength ever since – as you can see from the buzzy frames.
As part of our commitment to promoting sustainable environmental practices we are taking part in World Green Building Week. From 17 September to 23 September we are offering free Green Initiatives Tours at 12.00 everyday, a 15 minute talk on bees at 14.15 and activity sheets for children. Come and see how our bees are getting on!
Arna, Elizabeth, Helen and Laurence: the MOL beekeepers