THE FLYING BEES ARE OUT IN FORCE

What a fabulous site it was, to go up to my apiary and see the flying bees doing what they do best.. out flying! Each coming back with a gift for the hive. Tummies full of nectar or water and legs heavily laden with the golden pollen of the beautiful crocuses that are blooming all around. What a lovely prelude to Spring.

Below are a couple of honeybees busy at work in my garden..

52840176_288620938481279_230021504727777280_n.jpg
52905741_288620945147945_126147836638134272_n.jpg

WHAT A BUSY-BUZZY COUPLE OF WEEKS

Last week has been very busy chasing emails sent to schools in late January with a spectacular result. I called every school and with the exception of one, which shall remain anonymous, the response has been fantastic and I have made, as you can see from the events page, more than several bookings as a result.

It is not just about Betsie Valentine And the Honeybees, it’s spreading the word about our wonderful honeybees who work so hard to keep this planet alive and yet are struggling to stay alive themselves.

My book, so beautifully illustrated by Tegan Sharrard, is an educational, charming adventure that compliments my talks that I give to Key Stage 2 children in schools. Children are always so responsive and keen to take part during the talks and at the end I always do a question and answers session and never cease to be amazed and impressed by the questions they ask, which show how much they have listened and taken on board.

Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees is a continuation of my talk. Something the children can take home with them and enjoy all the while continuing to learn about the honeybees.

I feel very privileged to be invited in to these young children’s schools and it is my hope that as they grow up they will recall the “bee lady” who came and gave a talk to them when they were younger and this will spark off a keen interest in the honeybees and go on to create some fabulous young beekeepers. They may even go home and tell their parents all about the talk and share with them the book and they too will learn and perhaps even look in to beekeeping for themselves.

That is the ethos behind Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees. To spread the honeybee word. Create a buzz - pun intended! -

I am often asked if I am going to write another book. Will Betsie turn in to a butterfly or something else our planet relies on? My answer is, at this moment, “No.” Honeybees are my passion. I can talk to people with confidence and enthusiasm and a sound background of knowledge which always appears to rub off on to both the old and young at heart.

I love talking about the honeybees and I enjoy talking to people, combine the two and it makes for an interesting, thought provoking hour or so.

If you would like to acquire a basic knowledge of the honeybees and beekeeping, contact me through the website and I will happily, for a very nominal fee, come and talk to your school, your business, your local community or whoever it is you would like me to talk to. You too can join a local beekeeping association and become a beekeeper. Or if you do not want to go that far, learn enough to want to do more to help protect our wonderful honeybees.

I look forward to hearing from you.

SNOOPY TEACHING.png

STILL ALL THERE

Just had a quick peak in the one remaining hive I have and they are still there. Covering about four frames not the six that they were before, but nonetheless the hive is dry which is a result as I have tried this new method of wintering; replacing the lid with a complete insulation cover and damp wise it seems to be working. I have just given them some sugar, again something I have not done before but have not got any fondant and wanted to get it done before the forecast wet weather and winds settle in for the weekend. So, I grabbed a sunny moment in the day and went in. The sugar method I was told about is thus: Take a bag of sugar, pierce the paper with small holes (as you would the newspaper you put on top of the Queen Excluder when uniting two hives). immerse the bag in a bowl of cold water and count slowly to four. Take the bag out and place it in a freezer bag and wrap tightly. I then put the tightly wrapped bag of sugar in a plastic container and made sure it was well and truly wedged in. I turned the container over and cut a small hole , about 1” x 1/2”, in the bottom. When I got to the bees, I cut a small hole in the plastic bag (just inside the hole in the plastic container), lit my smoker, just in case they came up like a fountain as they are want to do when a bee- scape is removed, removed said bee-scape, gave a gentle puff of smoke and popped the container on top of the hole in the crown board. Fingers crossed this works. I have never done this before but the suggestion comes from a very good source! I can only say “watch this space.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 15.36.51.png

CLEVER BEES

Click on the link below to understand how clever the honeybees truly are:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/06/spelling-bees-no-but-they-can-do-arithmetic-say-researchers?CMP=share_btn_link

Screen Shot 2019-02-07 at 15.29.34.png

SAVE YOUR MONEY AND BUY FROM YOUR LOCAL BEEKEEPER!

During many of my talks people ask me about Manuka Honey and I find it a difficult question to answer. So I tell them what I think and that is to save your money and buy from your local beekeeper. You cannot get more organic and less messed with than that. It comes straight from the hive, through a sieve and in to the jar! No footprint.. nada.. Follow the link below and read about chemical found in some Manuka Honey!

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/31/new-zealand-brings-first-manuka-honey-prosecution-chemicals

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 15.26.42.png

THANK YOU NORTHERN BEE BOOKS!

A massive thank you to Northern Bee Books, Jeremy Burbridge, who has very kindly said I can have a space on his stand at the BBKA Spring Convention with Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees! I will of course be helping with other books.. Beekeepers are a lovely lot and this is just another gesture of support for me and my book that proves this to be true.

Northern Bee Books claims to have the largest range of new and second-hand beekeeping books in the English speaking world. You can visit their website, a link is at the bottom of this page, and have a good rummage through their books!

You wont find Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees there.. for that you have to click on ‘shop book’ on this website et voilá there she is and she can be with you within 24 hours of purchase!

Hopefully I will see some of you at The Spring Convention in Shropshire on Saturday April 13th.. and don’t forget I will be on The Northern Bee Book Stand. Buzzz buzzz!

LOVELY REVIEW

What a lovely review of Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees written in the Bees For Development Journal!

Bees for Development is an international charity specialising in work to alleviate poverty through beekeeping. Beekeeping contributes to supporting sustainable livelihoods in poor and remote communities and honey bees provide an essential ecosystem service. For more information about the charity take a look at their website www.beesfordevelopment.org/

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 23.13.18.png
Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 22.49.51.png

OH WHAT A WEEK THAT WAS!

I have been extremely busy this week! My trip to Shropshire/Hereford was full on and fantastic.

My first stop was to visit Mike Saunders in his beautiful home. Mike is an ex Royal Navy retired Gentleman and current beekeeper. In his words Mike is the “Ludlow person coordinating a project to recover a "near-enough" native bee from the mongrels which form the vast majority of  the managed honeybees in this country". After a three hour drive to get to Ludlow he sat me down with a welcoming cup of tea and biscuit and talked me through what it is he is trying to achieve. It was fascinating listening to his project and I very much hope to introduce him to The Chalfont Beekeepers Association, the club I belong to, by way of an invitation to come and talk to us about his venture.

In the evening I went to the Ludlow Beekeepers club and met some of their members. Always interesting to go to another club and see how they run things. Well, surprise - surprise, very much like we run ours! Listened to three very good talks about refining wax, cleaning equipment and making your own honey labels. It’s a funny thing, no matter how many times you hear a talk on something you have already heard a talk on, there is always something new to pick up and learn. Everyone of us has a different way of doing things so it is never a waste of time!

The following day I was at Trinity Primary School in Hereford. They had invited me to their school as they were having a plant and bee science week. I gave a talk to 90 school children aged 5 - 6. They came in groups of 30. I had 45 minutes with each group and I have to say, I have never talked about honeybees to such young children but they were amazing. They really engaged with me. They appeared to enjoy the session which included a hands on section where they could try on the bee suit and practice inspecting the hive. I gave a 30 minute reading from Betsie Valentine And The Honeybees to all 90 together and then later in the afternoon they returned in their batches of 30 for a question and answer session. What impressed me more than anything were the questions they asked. It proved they had listened and taken on board the things I had told them about the honeybees. My favourite moment had to be when I started to talk about the Waggle Dance. One of the little ones shot up his hand and said “Please Miss, we are doing a song about the Waggle Dance!” Then he turned to his teacher, Charlotte Bradbury, and said “Can we sing it for her?” Well I am not going to lie.. it brought a tear to my eye! I have heard the song performed before when I went to Boughton Primary School in Aylesbury last year when they were performing the same play as this the Trinity lot are about to put on… but it was (a) he was clearly paying attention to my talk. (b) his want to show me what they do and (c) the enthusiasm with which they performed the song on the spot! The teachers also enjoyed the day and two of them even bought a book… boom!

The classroom at Trinity Primary School where I set myself up for the day.

The classroom at Trinity Primary School where I set myself up for the day.