Saturday, 17 December 2011

Bee keeping at Bill Quay Community Farm

Bill Quay in Gateshead has a community farm where we help look after the bees on a voluntary basis. There are three hives on the farm and today we went up to give them oxalic acid. This is to keep the varroa mite at bay. Bee colonies have been hit heavily by this parasite in recent years so keeping a vigil against it is important.

Oxalic acid comes mixed into a sugar solution and is dripped into the hive between the frames onto the bees. It turned out to be a much easier task than we anticipated. (This is the first time we have applied it.) Tomorrow we do our own hives.

It strikes me that honey production is something that local communities could do. Here in the UK, we import large amounts of honey. There is clearly a demand for it and it is a healthy addition to the diet. Each community is capable of supporting bee keeping and honey production of some sort. All communities, even urban ones, need bees and other pollinating insect or otherwise our gardens will wither and die. Instead of importing honey from the other side of the planet, knocking up vast food miles in the process, we could produce much more of it in the localities where we live. 200 years ago, when much more of Britain's food was locally produced, hives and honey production was a common sight just about everywhere. Not everything we did in the past needs to be discarded.

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