Honey bees in gardens

Posted: Wednesday 22 October 2014
by Richard Jones

We went to the Red House at the weekend. Everywhere was calm but there was a great deal of hubbub in the garden. The beehive was, well, a hive of activity.

Honey bee on helenium

We went to the Red House at the weekend, perhaps our closest National Trust property in south-east London, and a delightful way to spend a quiet October afternoon. Everywhere was calm and still: no throngs of visitors, no busy car park, and no queues in the café. There was, however, a great deal of hubbub in the garden; the beehive was, well, a hive of activity.
It was a still balmy day, benefiting from the recent warm winds wafting over southern England, so perhaps it was no real surprise to see the bees coming and going in such numbers. There are plenty out on my ivy too, and a walk up the road shows they are busy in every garden where flowers are still on show.
Despite dire fears of bee welfare in the wider countryside, through intensive agriculture, loss of flowery hay meadows, and insidious attack from neonicotinoid sprays, urban bees continue to thrive, and well they might.
One of the major boosts to garden wildlife is the fact that gardens, or at least suburban blocks of them, are a frenzied mosaic of multiple habitats and fragmented micro-landscapes, with multitudinous ownership and wildly varying levels of gardening ethos, intensity and style. There are countless sheltered corners, plentiful abandoned plots, a mind-numbing variety of plant species, and increasing wildlife set-asides.
By their very nature (no pun intended) gardens are managed piecemeal. Unlike a commercial farm where a huge field can be ploughed, harrowed or sprayed in one abrupt tractor-driven event, the same area of urban gardens is never subject to any such environmental cataclysm. If someone digs up and rearranges all the veg plots one weekend, the neighbours will just be doing a bit of deadheading; if one person drains the pond to replace the liner, the people next door will just be putting a few bulbs in. It’s all variety, mixture and uncoordinated tinkering. And thankfully the bees love it.

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hollytree 27/10/2014 at 18:29

It's not just honey bees we have in Bexleyheath. You should see the huge flock of pied wagtails that live in the shopping centre's ventilation system. They're forming roosts at the moment and can be seen (and heard)every evening as they gather together.

philippa smith2 27/10/2014 at 18:36

Wagtails are always common visitors around shopping centre car parks.....perhaps they get a discount at the various stores ?

Peter Hewitt 07/11/2014 at 20:21

I thought that you would be interested in local a story I heard last week about a parish council in north Lincolnshire, asking a allotment holder to remove his hive of bees from his allotment,because if somebody gets stung the council hasn't got public liability insurance.I wounder how on earth in a court of law any body could prove that it was a bee from that hive.will the beekeeper have to fit tags or number them.I have never heard anything so daft in all my born days.I can just see the headlines in the papers a person saying I am just going to nip round next door to see if they have public liability insurance, because a bee has just flown over the hedge and stung me.
Peter Hewitt

Noel Thomas 15/05/2015 at 21:29

On tonight's programme Monty showed us a rustic beehive. Is there any chance that some plans could be published on this site please

the tidy gardener 16/05/2015 at 12:07

bit concerned about that bit on gardeners world.

it seemed all you had to do was buy this huge piece of wood, get some bees and bobs your uncle.

isn't there a little bit more to keeping bees than that, monty?!

I know he said to contact your local bee association tho.

in the papers this week was an article on swarms in cities, they think it might have something to do with amateur bee keepers..

is it?!

I would love bees, but I already have plenty in my garden cos of all the bee friendly plants I have.

and we had 2 swarms at my dads house which was pretty frightening when I was younger!

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