A day spent talking about bees

I started July off by helping out at the annual Northfields allotment open day. Tom usually goes along with his observation hive and honey for sale but he couldn’t make it this year. He had warned me it would be busy but I hadn’t realised quite how busy. There were over 700 visitors and it felt like nearly every one came to see the hives! I’d borrowed a deckchair but it went unused as I was on my feet for four hours straight with queues of people waiting to come by.

Me at Northfields allotments open day - photo by EalingToday.co.uk


What do people ask about bees?

There were some common themes…

  • Do you get stung?
  • How much honey do you get?
  • How do the bees find their way back home?
  • What are the bees in my garden/wall/floorboards?

Some of the children were budding honey experts; one little boy was telling me all about his visit to France where he visited a honey farm. A few children didn’t like honey but most did and wanted to try some – I had a couple of different honeys for them to try. I discovered I should have brought wet wipes as towards the end everything got very sticky!

I had some photos up of some of the different solitary and bumble bee species and it was nice to see how amazed people were about the number of bee species we have here in the UK. It’s around 250! And only one of those is the honey bee.

Most people were very friendly and interested by the bees. I did get a bit frustrated by people who got grumpy about me not selling honey. That’s my personal choice! And I’m quite glad not to have spent days before hand labelling up honey and then an afternoon having to find the right change for people. A recent charity event I helped out at where someone ended up scamming us over a cash payment has put me off that kind of thing.

Many visitors were telling me that local honey helps their hay fever, privately I wonder if this is mere placebo effect but I wasn’t going to tell them not to buy it. Even if it doesn’t help it’ll taste good! The Apiarist has just published a blog post – Honey and hay fever – which sums up some of my reasons for being skeptical about it. For instance, most hay fever sufferers react to grass pollen – which of course honey bees don’t collect, because grasses are wind pollinated.

Anyway, it was a nice day, good to see people enjoying the allotments and appreciating the bees.

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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19 Responses to A day spent talking about bees

  1. Pingback: A day spent talking about bees | Raising Honey Bees

  2. disperser says:

    Ah, dealing with the public; one of my most favorite things . . . not.

    But, overall, it sounds like it was a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Scott says:

      Ha. Having worked as a waitress, a shop assistant and in a call centre, I share your thoughts…sometimes these situations draw out the worst in a few people. It’s only a few, but they stick in your mind.


  3. Lovely post as usual. Everything does get sticky by the end of the day when telling the public about bees!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like you did a very good job of furthering the bee cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily Scott says:

      I was heartened by how many people were enthusiastic about bees. Although when I explained to one person that not all bees make honey, they said “So what do they do then?” incredulously – as if mere survival was not enough!


  5. Emma Maund says:

    You are a budding bee-and-honey talker! Sounds like a great day 🙂


  6. Pingback: A day spent talking about bees | Beginner Beekeeper

  7. I really like giving bee talks. My last one was to a group of Rainbows, great fun. My advice is always to bring an observation hive and not reveal it until the very last….


  8. I love doing these events, but oh it is tiring (and I am not in your blooming condition, my dear!), and messy! Yes to the wet wipes! I now make up a jar of my custom seed mix (sweet clover, dutch clover, crimson clover, borage, phacelia, buckwheat, alfalfa, fireweed/rosebay willowherb) and set it out with a little spoon and packets for people to take home and plant. I really push how the best thing they can do to help the bees is plant, plant, plant for them. Planting pots works well if they only have a deck or doorstep to garden on. Next year I am going to cut out a 4′ square in our lawn, put up a cute fence and plant it with my bee mix, photograph and make that a standard part of my display. It is something everyone can do although the neighbours might be surprised!


  9. It sounds like a great day and you never know how many people you have touched, opened an interest or corrected long-held misinformation. We have been to some events in France with an empty hive, pictures and some honey frames. There is so much interest. One of the things people were amazed by was the weight of a full honey frame. Amelia


    • Emily Scott says:

      Thanks Amelia, I hope so. I once had bees fill out an entire brood box with honey (the queen had got trapped in the super – long story). The brood box must have weighed about 50 pounds. I could lift it, but it hurt!


  10. Honeybees do collect soooome grass pollen, even though it’s wind pollinated. But your point is 100% valid and I’m just being nit-picky


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