Vandals wreck community beehives hours after insects are installed

Vandals wreck community beehives hours after insects are installed

vandals beehives

POLICE are hunting vandals who wrecked community beehives costing thousands of pounds just hours after they were installed, and a reward of £5,000 has been offered by one local resident for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Thousands of Buckfast bees, named after the monks’ abbey where the famous tonic wine is made, died in the wrecking spree near an old railway line outside Stonehouse in Lanarkshire. Residents have now rebuilt the hives and hidden them at secret locations.

The Avondale Community Beekeepers, a £10,000 National Lottery project set up by the 30-strong group, put up the hives, which were made by pupils at Strathaven Academy in Lanarkshire. Some 60,000 bees were then put inside with their queens.

Within hours the hives were smashed up and 3,000 bees were lost despite a desperate bid by local man Danny Baxter to save the bees by scooping them up and putting them back into the hives with his bare hands.

Police Scotland confirmed they had been called to the incident and inquiries into the vandalism are continuing.

Father-of-five and grandfather David Paterson, 56, from Strathaven, came up with the idea of having his own beehive in his garden. However, when his neighbours heard about it and they wanted to become involved.

Paterson and the rest of the group applied for funding and won £10,000 from the National Lottery, £800 from South Lanarkshire Council, Strathaven Round Table £250 and a donation from wind farm firm Banks Group.

He said: “About 18 months ago I came up with the idea to have a beehive in my garden because I’ve always fancied having bees, but it spread around the community and before I knew it we had about 30 local people interested in setting up a community keepers’ group.

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“We share 20 beehives on eight different sites and everybody takes it in turn to look after them. We had 60,000 bees which cost us about £3,000. They only went in on Thursday night and within hours they were vandalised. We were gutted.

“The hives had been sitting there empty for three weeks untouched before we put the bees in. We only found out they had been vandalised when one of the volunteers went down to check on them on Friday afternoon and he called the police.

“He picked up as many bees as could with his bare hands and put them back into the hives. He was covered in bee stings.”

The community beehive group has rallied round to help put the beehives back together and relocate them at secret sites.

The group is determined not to let the vandals ruin their project or their fun and they are calling for ideas for songs related to bees to keep them upbeat.

So far volunteers have come up with a playlist including: Staying Alive by the Bee Gees, Let it Be by the Beatles and Sugar Sugar from the Bee Movie.

David added: “We are not letting this get to us and destroy our project. It is done now and we are moving on. We are made of tougher stuff and we are not going to let this ruin things.”

Let dandelions grow. Bees, beetles and birds need them

Dandelions are demonised as one of the most pernicious weeds, but hold back on the mowing and you’ll find a whole range of garden wildlife depends on them for food, writes Kate Bradbury

Dandelions

A few weeks ago I walked past a lawn which hadn’t yet had its first spring cut. It was awash with bright yellow dandelions, and each one was peppered with several pollen beetles, perhaps enjoying their first meal of the year. A week later the dandelions were buzzing with bees, but a few days after that, this little patch of wildflowers had been razed – what happened to the pollen beetles and the bees?

As I write, thousands of hectares of such wildflower habitat are being destroyed under the blades of our lawn mowers, and the bees, pollen beetles, butterflies and moths are going hungry. As a weed, it’s one of the most unpopular of the bunch: dandelion tap roots are notoriously hard to dig out, the plants have an almost unrivalled knack of propagating themselves, including in walls and cracks in paving where nothing else would live, and – to add insult to injury – they are often the first flower we see in spring and the last in autumn. The dandelion is bold and brash and unrelenting. But that is why it is brilliant. It’s virtually everywhere and nearly always in flower; it’s the pollinator’s best friend.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), was named after the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which refers to its toothed leaves. Other names for dandelion include wet-the-bed and pissy-beds, which refer to its effectiveness as a diuretic.

The young leaves are edible and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, the roots can be ground into a (quite tasty) coffee substitute, and the flowers can be made into wine (just leave some for the wildlife). Historically, its sap was said to cure warts, while a tea made using its leaves was supposed to help calm stomach aches. Herbalists apparently still use dandelions to treat skin conditions, asthma, low blood pressure, poor circulation, ulcers, constipation, colds and hot flushes.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

But back to the wildlife: while in flower for most of the year, the dandelion’s peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and other pollinators emerge from hibernation. Each flower in fact consists of up to 100 florets, each one packed with nectar and pollen. This early, easily available source of food is a lifesaver for pollinators in spring.

Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies such as the peacock and holly blue. Goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seed. Yet most of us gardeners miss out on the spectacle of watching wildlife feast on our dandelions, because we wage such a war against them as weeds.

So perhaps we could take a couple of weeks off from mowing the lawn this month, or at least raise the cutting height of the mower? We’ll be rewarded with the sight of bees, butterflies, hoverflies and beetles feasting on the flowers, and goldfinches and house sparrows tucking into the seed. We’ll also have time for more interesting activities than mowing.

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Adopt A Hive Swarm Rescue

Adopt A Hive Swarm Rescue 4/5/2015 

First swarm this year.

Swarm-A

 

At 5 pm this evening the phone rung, ( Ring Ring Ring ), do you rescue bees?, yes we do .. there are bees on our fence ( I take the address and post code ) immediately I am on my way, approx 5 miles away .. ha ha its on my patch, considering we can travel up to 50 miles away from base.

Swarm-B

Here I put the large skep on top of the fence .. balancing on the edge of the fence lucky a twig is holding it in place. Skeps where used to keep bees in approx 1800’s, bees swarm normally due to overcrowding. Note … no bee suit on .. when bees swarm they consume 3 days of honey so they are very placid.

At this time I saw the queen and put her in a cage. she had a white dot on her .. so that tells me it came from a fellow beekeeper  ( finders keepers ) so straight away I popped her into the skep .. so the rest of the bees will follow.

Swarm-F

Just hanging about now trying to catch as many stragglers as possible using a smaller skep now on the fence …. after a hour I was back at home loading up a empty hive .. and then off to one of Adopt-A -Hives apiary’s where they where hived and fed. What a lovely end to a May day holiday.

Photo credits Sandra ( Lady who rang me )  Thank You Sandra

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