Learning about the world of bees and beekeeping
We are a volunteer association to help people in and around Hitchin to discover and enjoy the world of bees and to learn the craft of beekeeping. We host visits to the BuzzWorks Discovery Centre to enjoy the bee-friendly garden and the exhibition. We provide training courses for new and improver beekeepers at the HoneyWorks Training Centre and support local beekeepers.
Education: We aim to educate the public (and children especially) about how honey bees live, how they pollinate plants (necessary for food for us as well as wildlife), how they produce honey and why their survival is at risk and they need our help. We believe it is important for everyone to understand the role of honey bees in our environment so they can help ensure their survival.
Training: We aim to train new and improver beekeepers. Beekeepers are recognised by governments across the world as having a vital role in maintaining the health of the honey bee in the presence of pests and diseases that have had a severe impact on honey bee populations over the last 50 years. Honey bees have a national importance for pollination of food crops so training beekeepers in good beekeeping practices and increasing the number of beekeepers is of direct benefit to food producers in particular and to the public in general.
Hosted Educational Visits: We host visits to the BuzzWorks Discovery Centre from local schools, youth organisations (e.g. Rainbows, Brownies, Beavers and Cubs) and other youth and adult community groups. The Discovery Centre comprises an exhibition on honeybees, an example bee-friendly garden, an observation bee-hive and apiary and an outdoors shelter for activities such flower pressing, honey-tasting, candle making and utilisation of teaching aids. Our hosts give talks on the honey bee (habitat, life cycle, plant pollination, nectar collection, honey production) with reference to what bees need to survive in the modern world and how important they are to ensuring mankind's own food supply.
Public Open Days: We open the Discovery Centre to the general public on several days in the year (at least once per month from May to September). We provide hosts to inform visitors about bees and beekeeping, to demonstrate the use of related equipment (e.g. for managing the bees and extracting the honey) and to point out in our garden the kind of plants that are beneficial to the bees.
Beekeeper Training: We provide theory and practical training courses for prospective, beginner and improver beekeepers. The HoneyWorks Training Centre is a dedicated site comprising an apiary, workshops and meeting rooms. The primary aim is to teach trainees how to successfully manage one or more colonies of bees, keeping them in good health and, if desired, to produce honey for human consumption.
Dissemination of knowledge about honey bees: We provide information to the general public. This is achieved electronically via our website and verbally/using leaflets at our market stalls.
The Discovery Centre, comprising bee-friendly garden, Bee School and courtyard, is open for family, school and group visits. The garden is planted with flowers and vegetables that need bees. The Bee School has an educational exhibition in six chapters which explains the fascinating world of the honey bee, while an observation hive gives a close-up view of honey bees at work. Courtyard tables provide an outdoor classroom and a place to picnic. This fully accessible site is situated on the edge of the Old Hale Way Allotments and is open to the public on selected days between May and September:
BuzzWorks Discovery Centre is now closed for the winter season.
Open Days: Open days will be posted here early in 2015.
School Visits: are hosted on a Tuesday or a Thursday (between May and July).Other Group Visits: by arrangement (see contact details below).
At HoneyWorks you can learn how to keep honey bees and extract honey. Lying within Burford Way
Allotments and backing on to Oughtonhead Nature Reserve, it is an excellent wildlife site.
Taster Days for prospective beekeepers will be advertised here early in 2015.
Beginner and Improver training courses will commence with 2 theory sessions in March and April and 10 practical sessions from April to September.
Please contact our Administrator for further information (see contact details below)
BuzzWorks aims also to promote wildlife conservation. The BuzzWorks and HoneyWorks sites are planted and managed to provide foraging for bees but also to provide support for other wildlife.
Pondlife: Our ponds are havens for frogs, newts, dragonflies and many other insects. We even had a resident coot on HoneyWorks pond in 2014!
Insects: The BuzzWorks flower garden and the HoneyWorks wildflower meadow, scented garden and fruit trees attract many other insects, including solitary and bumble bees.
Birds and Bats: Bird and bat boxes in the trees provide shelter and encourage local wildlife diversity.
Nature Reserve: The HoneyWorks site backs onto the Oughtonhead Nature Reserve managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, forming a complementary habitat for the variety of birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife that thrive in the nature reserve. The reserve is an important habitat for birds such as kingfishers, water rail and woodcock whilst mammals such as the water shrew may be seen.
Hitchin Market Stall - Honey and More
We sell our honey, related hive products (soaps, balms, candles) and other gifts at the Hitchin Craft and Farmers Market which
is held on the last Saturday of every month. Our stall is down by the
river Hiz opposite St. Mary's Church. Do come and see us.
Our next stall will be on Saturday 31st January. We look forward to seeing you then.
The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) maintains a list of individual beekeepers willing to respond to public reports of swarming honey bees. Use the following BBKA links to find out more about swarms or to contact a swarm collector.
| Please do not call beekeepers about bumblebees or any
insect other than the honey bee. They are unable to help you with these
and will not collect/remove them.
For information on other insects and bees, the organisations listed on the Do You Have a Swarm page are better placed to help you.
Will Honey Help? We are often asked whether taking local honey will help hayfever sufferers. Whereas there is no scientific evidence for it, some sufferers do believe it helps.
The Theory: Local honey does contain small amounts of pollen from local plants. By consuming this honey over a period of time (likely many months), the theory is that the pollen content works on the body's immune system to de-sensitise the sufferer to the pollen to which he/she is sensitive.
Our thoughts: Hayfever is a result of an allergic reaction to one or more plant pollens. Bee
pollinated plants flower at different times of year so that the pollen
from specific plants will be present in the honey produced by the bees
at that time. Honey will contain pollen mostly from the plants
visited by the bees; the pollen from plants that rely on wind rather
than insect pollination will be present in honey in small
quantities only, if at all. It is unclear whether sufferers would
need exposure to specific or any type honey borne pollen to attain
desensitisation. If specific, then they would need to know to which
plants and at which time of year they get the reaction and have ready a
supply of the corresponding honey which they can use in the months
leading up to their reactive period.
BuzzWorks honey is a natural product and, like
all pure honey, will crystallise over time. This is a sign of its quality and
the minimal processing we perform to retain aroma and flavour. The rapidity with which it crystallises and the size of the crystals depend on the amounts of different types of sugar in the nectar used by the bees. We "cream" some of our honey so it is "soft set" (see below) but really prefer to leave it natural as nature intended.
honey has a fine texture but can set hard. In this area, there is a lot
of oil-seed rape and the honey from this sets very quickly. Spring honey generally has a light colour and mild, delicate taste.
Summer honey has
a fine texture and remains liquid longer than spring and autumn honey. It has a more golden colour and a pronounced floral taste which fulfils the popular image of a tasty golden liquid honey.
Autumn honey can set very hard with a less fine texture and stronger flavour. It has a much darker colour. Nectar from ivy flowers is a main component and is responsible for the colour, taste and hard set. It is prized by many for use on toast or with porridge.
To turn crystallised honey back to liquid or to soften it, microwave on low power for 30 seconds and repeat if necessary. Try not to overheat as this can affect its flavour.Soft Set Honey: One trick to keep honey spreadable is to "cream" it. Warm set honey until it is just stirable (it won't work if it is too liquid). Stir it to break up the crystals until it is a thick creamy porridge - it will look lighter in colour. It will remain "soft-set".
BuzzWorks Association Hitchin is a voluntary, non-profit association set up in 2007 by local beekeepers.
What Volunteers Have Achieved: Back in 2007, a rubbish dump at the far end of Old Hale Way allotments was made available by North Herts District Council for the development of the BuzzWorks Discovery Centre. A hardworking band of volunteers cleared the site, planned the layout, erected the buildings and established the garden and apiary with the support of various grants to provide the infrastructure. Regular working parties were established and little paid labour was needed. A similar project then evolved to establish the HoneyWorks Training Centre - previously a completely wooded area of abandoned allotments on the Burford Way allotments site.
What Volunteers are Doing Now: Work on these sites is ongoing by volunteers with various interests, skills and backgrounds. Activities are varied and include gardening (planting and maintaining flower beds, pruning and grass cutting) and DIY activities (maintaining site equipment and buildings and the making and repairing of hives and bird/bat boxes). There are always new developments coming along that need enthusiastic and practical support.
The Discovery Centre would not be what it is
without the commitment of the team who give talks, develop source material and
help with the school and other groups who come during the summer and enjoy what
BuzzWorks has to offer. At HoneyWorks there is also work to do in support of the
beekeeping training programme such as helping new starters find their way around, managing training material and equipment or even serving up the tea and cake after a practical session in the apiary.
Our regular market stalls help to finance our work. We are looking to expand our core team of
volunteers there to help sell our honey and other products and to chat to the public to promote our activities. During summer we have a demonstration hive of bees at the stall - a real crowd puller.
Interested? If you are interested in honey bees, in gardening for bees, in helping visitors to learn about bees or just willing to chip in wherever in a sociable, meaningful environment, why not join us? Whatever life skills you have, you can be sure we can find a role for you! Even small commitments of time are valuable to us and tea and biscuits are always on the agenda!
Why not come to an Open Day and see what we do or contact our Administrator (see Contact below).
We would love to hear from you.
There will be several meetings over the winter season in St. Mark's Church, Lancaster Avenue including films, discussions and talks from invited speakers. Topics of interest to beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike. Come and learn and share your views. Bring a friend!
We had a full house at the Winter Meeting on Thursday 15th January with attendees from BuzzWorks, North Herts BKA, Beds BKA and North Bucks BKA. Guest speaker Peter Folge, a Seasonal Bee Inspector and member of Welwyn BKA, gave us an excellent, informative talk on his beekeeping experience gleaned from his own 33 years of keeping bees but also from his work as a bee inspector. Peter's willingness to provide detailed answers to audience questions was much appreciated. A great evening - thanks.
Our next Winter talk will be on Thursday 19th February. There will be talks and discussions on Natural Beekeeping and an update on committee plans for 2015. **UPDATE** - The Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust who manage Oughtonhead Nature Reserve are going to give us a talk on "Where The Wild Things Are".
Check out the Members' Page for the year plan and other information.
Please send all enquiries to our BAH Administrator at email@example.com
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Click on an image to download a PDF copy.
The map gives the locations of BuzzWorks (Discovery Centre) and HoneyWorks (Training Centre).
The Garden leaflet gives a list of bee-friendly flowers that you could plant in your own garden.
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