Bees......................... Logo.......................... Bee and Pollen

Welcome to BuzzWorks Association Hitchin

BuzzWorks - the Bee Discovery Centre

HoneyWorks - the Beekeeping Training Centre

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 Bee Discovery Centre to enjoy the bee-friendly garden and the exhibition. We provide training courses for new and improver beekeepers at the HoneyWorks Beekeeping Training Centre and support local beekeepers.


Our Aims......What We Do......Discovery Centre/Visiting.......Training Centre......Caring For Wildlife......Market Stall...... Swarm Reporting ......Hay Fever

Our Honey...... Volunteering......Members......Fun Links/Worth a Look......Contact/Join......Information......Useful Links......Photo Gallery


Our Aims:

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.

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What We Do:

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 (approximately once per month from June 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.

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BuzzWorks Discovery Centre - Bee Garden and Bee School

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 will be open for arranged visits from May.

Open Days: Remaining open days for 2015 are 2-5pm on Sat 22nd August and Sat 19th September. Come and chat to beekeepers and find out more about bees in the Discovery Centre - see live bees up close, taste our honey and see how we extract it, learn how bees live, check out our bee-friendly garden.

School Visits: are hosted on a Tuesday or a Thursday (between May and July).

Other Group Visits: by arrangement.

To plan a visit, see contact details below.

BW_Garden1 BW_Garden2 BW_pond_beeschool

Open Day Observation Hive Exhibition

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HoneyWorks Training Centre for Beekeeping

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 - a taster course (normally one theory and one practical session on 2 separate days) is being planned for Spring 2016 (April/May). This course is aimed at those beginners who will have been accepted on our beginners programme.

Beginner Training - we are currently taking names of prospective beekeepers interesting in joining our 2016 beginner training course.

Improver Training - this year, short theory sessions are being held on Sunday afternoons, followed by practical apiary sessions with the beginners.

The training programme normally runs from May through to September. We are running a waiting list for 2016 beginners training.

Please contact our Administrator for further information (see contact details below).

Mentoring2...... HW_Training2...... HW_Training

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Caring For Wildlife

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 reserveThe reserve is an important habitat for birds such as kingfishers, water rail and woodcock whilst mammals such as the water shrew may be seen.

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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.

Stall_2 Honey_Jar_1 Stall_Products_1

We do get good reports on the effectiveness of the Elynium balms for eczema and psoriasis. If you have feedback, let us know. For further information see http://www.elynium.com/.

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Swarm Reporting

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.

Hedge_Swarm_4 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.

Do You Have a Swarm - information to help you identify if you have a honey bee swarm

Find a Local Swarm Collector  - A beekeeper may not always be contactable/free; we suggest you work your way through the list of those beekeepers closest to you. Beekeepers will be more than willing to provide help and advice; however, they are not obliged to collect swarms and may be unable to help if the swarm is in an unreachable or dangerous location.

BBKA Press Release - some general information on Swarming (May 2014)

For information on other insects and bees, the organisations listed on the Do You Have a Swarm page are better placed to help you. 

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Honey for Hayfever?

Bee and Pollen

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.

Bottom line: It seems that many hayfever sufferers believe they do get a benefit from taking honey. Certainly, we know that, traditionally, honey's antimicrobial properties have been used in the treatment of wounds and for general health benefits such as soothing sore throats. However, we advise caution - exaggerated claims on the internet for the health benefit of honey are widespread and usually not substantiated by reliable references. We think honey is a great natural product - taking a spoonful or two every day is one of life's pleasures and may well carry some health related benefits. Of course, honey should not be consumed against medical advice.

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About Our Honey

Help - My Honey has Crystallised!

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.

Hitchin Honey

Spring 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,stir and repeat if necessary. Try not to overheat as this can affect its flavour. A gentler method is to warm it in a bowl of warm water.

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".

More About Jarred Natural Honey:

White streaks of crystallised honey sometimes form down the side of the jar. Honey crystals form around pollen grains, air bubbles, tiny pieces of beeswax or even imperfections in the glass surface. The crystals produced this way tend to be large and white. Once started these crystals trigger further crystals of the same type - hence the streaking effect. They are harmless (just honey) and do not affect the flavour or quality of the honey.

A white honey foam can sometimes form at the top the jar. It is natural - some trapped air is unavoidable during processing and it forms air bubbles that slowly rise to the top and can accumulate as honey foam. It is harmless and doesn't affect the flavour or quality of the honey.

Our Cooking Honey:

Our Cooking Honey comes from the same source and is made using the same process as our eating honey. The difference is that the consistency or appearance is not of the standard we demand for our eating honey or it may be eating honey close to or slightly past its “best before” date. Our best before date is a maximum of 2 years from production which is anyway conservative.

Being a natural product, the honey made by our bees can vary in character depending on the source of the nectar they use and environmental factors such as the temperature during setting and storage. We will have labelled it as cooking and not eating honey if it exhibits any of the following faults, most of which can occur over time: separation (crystals and liquid), uneven crystallisation,  unappealing appearance (dark, grainy), very hard set (can be warmed to soften), shorter than normal shelf life (normally because of higher water content).

The honey remains perfectly good to eat but is intended to be used only for cooking purposes.

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Volunteering

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.

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Fun Links and Worth a Look

Fun Links:

Haute Couture for the Apiary - jean-paul-gaultier latest "must have"?

Don't do this at home or in your apiary - Naturist Beekeeping

Worth a Look:

Quantifying variation among garden plants in attractiveness to bees and other insects (Prof Ratnieks, Sussex University), 15mins on YouTube

Institut fur den Wissenschaftlichen Film (IWF):There is a series of excellent videos made by IWF in Gottingen, Germany available on YouTube - we are not advocating any of their methods but they are defintely "worth a look".

First Springtime Inspection http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcTlHV1ZxLo

Creating a Nucleus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBiojkUd_5Y

Selecting Honey Bees - Honey Yield and Behaviour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI48I4L3_pM

Selecting Honey Bees - Vitality http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8deP6Wq_i_w

Management of Colonies by Annual Rotation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px3agh67_xI

Bee Dances (inc Waggle Dance) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNlyNnY3-sc

Heather Skep Apiary  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivfc9rCbV7g

The Neonicotinoids Debate

 Biologist and Beekeeper Randy Oliver reviews a recent paper on neonics (24 August 2015)

"Pesticides: Seeking answers amid a toxic debate" Nature, May 2015

"Bees prefer food containing neonicotinoid pesticides" Nature, April 2015

A rational summary (Nature, Feb 2013) Bees, lies and evidence-based policy

Some latest UK research results (for bumble rather than honey bees) Neonicotinoid insecticides impair bee's brains

 CCD, Bee Diseases, Pests and Other Research Results

The Small Hive Beetle, Prof Jamie Ellis presentation at the National Honey Show, fascinating (1 hour on YouTube)

"Pollinators in Peril", Martha Spivak - 70min lecture -watch it!

Colony Collapse Disorder - CCD may be a result of young bees forced to forage

Natural chemicals in nectar and pollen can combat parasites - a study by Dartmouth College

Surprisingly few 'busy bees' make global crops grow - a paper in Nature Communications

President Obama's Bee Plan - A USA Biologist reviews the state of America's pollinators

Beekeepers with something (worthwhile) to say

Randy Oliver (US Biologist and commercial beekeeper) - scientificbeekeeping.com.

The "Flow Hive" advert has gone viral on YouTube but some are not impressed.

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Contact

Please send all enquiries to our BAH Administrator at buzzworksweb@gmail.com

Please report issues with this site to the Website Manager at buzzworksweb-john@yahoo.co.uk

If you wish to join us, please download this PDF copy of the membership form and return it to the Membership Secretary as directed on the form.

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Information

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.

Map ......... Garden_Leaflet

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Useful Links

British BeeKeepers Association (BBKA)

Hertfordshire BeeKeepers Association (Herts BKA)

North Hertfordshire BeeKeepers Association (NHBKA)

Bedfordshire BeeKeepers Association (Beds BKA)

Oughtonhead Nature Reserve (Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust)

The National Bee Unit (Animal and Plant Health Agency)

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For more information email buzzworksweb@gmail.com

Page last updated on 24th August 2015