Last weekend we sheltered from the lashing rain under the Eden project’s enormous biomes. I had been drawn there by the current exhibition on bees. A set of three hives are placed in a prominent position up on a hill as you approach Eden – with a sign asking people to keep their distance!
The bee exhibition was a mix of paintings and sculptures by Kurt Jackson, plus a immersive interactive artwork by Wolfgang Buttress and magnified closeup photos of honey bee body parts.
The art work is gorgeous, as you can see. I would have liked to take more photos of Kurt Jackson’s atmospheric beekeeper paintings, but most of his work was behind glass, which makes for bad photos.
Wolfgang Buttress is well known for his artwork ‘The Hive‘ at Kew Gardens. ‘Reverie’ is on a much smaller scale but I appreciated the scents of the bee friendly plants, accompanied by the sounds of the Eden colonies. A little seat was included in the middle so that you could sit and imagine yourself amongst the bees on a beautiful summer’s day (while outside torrential rain and gales battered Eden’s biomes).
There was some information on the native dark honey bee as Cornwall is meant to be a stronghold of this subspecies. In 2019 the Eden Project is going to become the third dark honey bee reserve in the county (or Duchy as some locals prefer to call it!).
We spent an action packed day playing with Tommy – Eden has lots to do with small children. He was enchanted by the birds darting among the biomes. A few tantrums were also had, for instance he took against the many ants in the tropical biome and panicked when some got on him. He has also started disliking getting his shoes muddy. I try to encourage him to play outside and not worry about mud, so I hope he’ll grow out of it.
Eden had one final – but gigantic – bee for us as we left.
Nature doesn’t slow down for long during a Cornish winter, so already we have multiple clusters of frogspawn jelly in our pond and vibrant yellow daffodils mixed in with snowdrops, primroses and crocuses.
I’ll probably remove my mouseguards and woodpecker protection in the last week of February/first week of March. The bees were still alive and inquisitively buzzing last time I checked on Saturday, busy high up in the brood boxes eating their fondant.
Swarm season always comes as a surprise to me. Although I’ve tried to be more prepared than usual by buying in the winter sales, no doubt all of a sudden frames will need to be made up and my new nucleus hives painted.
In the human world I’ve been helping my local association keep their website up-to-date and answering email enquiries. We’ve had a couple of enquiries recently from people looking to buy wax to make beeswax wraps and cosmetics. Beeswax wraps have really taken off and I can think of at least three different shops in Truro which are selling them now.
Also someone wanting honey from apiaries meeting ‘ethical’ specifications such as using no varroa treatments, no queen excluders, no feeding of sugar and completely unfiltered honey.
Sometimes people are looking to start businesses using local bee products but have quite strict limitations about what they require, and I do wonder if they’re likely to find chemical-free beekeepers (for example) who can supply honey or wax in large enough quantities. Anyway, it’s interesting hearing from members of the public and hopefully we can encourage new beekeepers or people wanting to help bees.