Sadly, this month we will be saying goodbye to our dedicated beekeeper Tina. In the new year, a new face for KU will be leading the project – Rita White, senior lecturer from the School of Education. Rita is eager to learn all about the bees and share her experiences with as wide an audience as possible. She will be ably supported by Sam from the Kingston Beekeepers Association and our consultant Martin, so we have a great team to move forward with. As ever, raising awareness about the importance of bees will be top priority and we will be looking for keen volunteer hive check assistants to help when the weather warms up, so watch this space!
Over the last three years, the beehives have found a special place in Tina’s heart. Here she looks back on the exciting journey she and the bees have gone on at Kingston Hill.
“It seems like years ago when, unable to keep bees at home I idly made an enquiry about the possibility of keeping bees at the University. The size of the font in the YES PLEASE reply gave me the idea they were quite keen. It was a slow start with investigations into finding a suitable spot and an expert to offer guidance and to source the bees but the bees arrived in a box covered in a sheet one June afternoon in 2011. It was hard to concentrate on our expert Martin’s talk when we were all focused on the furiously buzzing box in the corner of the room but within the hour they were out and installed in their new home.
We’ve usually been blessed with plenty of willing helpers who have photographed, used as assignment course information and generally helped out. Many thanks to Bruce Lloyd and Den Tallintire who helped with the first artificial swarm and the cuckoo protection cages. It’s been hard work but when it seems tough I go down to the hives just to watch them busily flying in and out, it’s very restful and restorative, their intelligence and hard work never ceases to amaze me. I’ve learnt a lot but as any beekeeper will tell you there’s always more to learn and once you feel you know it all the bees will throw you a curve ball.
I’ve discovered I’m not a natural beekeeper (or perhaps I am!) as I hated taking the honey from them this year, it seemed mean to take away the fruits of their labour just to dollop on our morning porridge! We give them syrup to see them through the hard times but what mother takes away a nutritious glass of milk and substitutes it with a can of coke?
I shall miss the bees but hope to come to as many checks as I can this year as Rita builds her knowledge and practice. I’ve just been sent an article which says that bees can recognise human faces which I’d like to think was true and that they will miss me too!”
We would like to thank Tina for her amazing commitment to the project and wish her well with her future endeavours. But it’s not goodbye, just a farewell for now as we look forward to her visits and seeing the hives go from strength to strength. Over to you Rita…!