More Buzzy Bee Information!

big_beeHave you heard of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust?

It was established because of serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’. In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically. The Trust aims to support the conservation of all bumblebees and to raise awareness and increase understanding about bumblebees and the social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits which they and other pollinators provide.

So what can we do?

We can plant a bumblebee-friendly garden! This means planting a variety of flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar which bees can easily access from spring until late summer. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s website has a handy online tool for you to determine how bee-friendly your garden is. Give it a go!

And if you’d like to get more involved, the Trust is always happy to welcome volunteers to help spread the word.

The Trust’s website also includes some lovely recipes using bee-pollinated foods. Here’s one:

Lavender Scones

375g self raising flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
80g butter
250ml milk (may also use lavender infused milk)
2 teaspoons fresh or 1 tsp dried lavender flowers


  • Preheat oven to 220 C
  • Place the lavender flowers in a blender/food processor/herb grinder for a few seconds to turn them into a course powder.
  • Combine the flour, sugar and lavender in a medium size bowl.
  • Add the butter, and with your fingertips, combine until the mixture reaches the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the milk, and blend the mixture together.
  • Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until it forms a soft dough.
  • Flatten dough until it is approximately 2cm thick.
  • Using scone cutter (or glass) cut the dough into shapes.
  • Lightly dust baking sheet with self raising flour, and place the scone shapes onto the baking sheet, placing them 1 cm apart.
  • Lightly brush with milk
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 14-16 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Place on wire racks to cool.
  • Enjoy!

A Bee-yootiful day with the Bees!

Last month, a group of us headed north to spend a day with beekeeper Lynda Evans as part of a CFWI event.

In the morning, we sat in the sunshine in Lynda’s beautiful garden as she explained the process to us – and we all came away with new-found respect for beekeepers and the hard work they do. Lynda has 35 colonies but at one point had 60! And this is in addition to her full-time office job.

After that came the moment we’d all been waiting for – the donning of the bee suits! Amid giggles, we all managed to get ourselves dressed in our suits, wellies and Marigolds, and were ready to meet the bees.

Beekeepers for a day: (left to right) Charlotte Robinson, Gail Allen, Alison Latham, Mary Venn and Helen Kestle
Beekeepers for a day: (left to right) Charlotte Robinson, Gail Allen, Alison Latham, Mary Venn and Helen Kestle

The walk to Lynda’s hives too us through fields where we met a turkey, a cockatoo and a pony – all friendly and eager to join us.

Once we reached the hives, Lynda opened one up for us to see the bees. We were amazed at how clearly we could see them returning to the hive with their bright pink or yellow pollen-laden legs! It was truly an eye-opener.

Alison Latham gets up close and personal with the bees

Back in the garden, we divested ourselves of our very warm bee suits and settled in to eat our sandwich lunches and talk about bees.

After lunch, it was time for some candle-making, using the beeswax Lynda collects from her hives to melt down. We took turns patiently dipping our wicks into a big pot of wax and eventually were rewarded with beautiful amber-coloured tapers!

The beautiful honey-scented beeswax candles we made
The beautiful honey-scented beeswax candles we made

Before going home, Lynda gave us all cake slathered with clotted cream and her own delicious honey. We all came home with jars of honey, beeswax furniture polish, candles and a huge amount of new knowledge about the importance of bees.

What a wonderful day it was!

Click here to see lots more photos of our day.


Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!

HoneybeesCCD_m_0503There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the WI’s 2009 resolution about honey bees.

During the last year, the NFWI has worked hard to help persuade the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that a joined-up, comprehensive Bee Action Plan is needed if we are to tackle bee decline effectively. The Plan is currently out for public consultation, providing a key opportunity to tell government what should be improved, as well as remind them that the WI and wider public are behind an ambitious pollinator strategy that will make a real difference to bees in the long term.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Sow seeds for bees. Plant a range of flowers so that bees can have access to pollen from spring to late summer. 
  • Support local honey. There’s a lot of beautiful local Cornish out there! Not only does it taste delicious, it’s also reputed to help prevent hayfever
  • Send a postcard to the Minister for Bees. If you didn’t get one at last night’s meeting, we can get more! Email us on
A picture of a beekeeper taken from an Egyptian temple from 4,500 years ago.

Have you read Martha Kearney’s Bee Blog? It’s really great! And what about tuning in to see her on BBC 4’s The Wonder of Bees? If you’ve missed it, you can always catch it again on iPlayer.

If you prefer your bees in real life, why not go on the CFWI ‘A Day at an Aviary’ event at Lanhearne Aviary near St Eval in June? You’ll have a chance to don a bee suit and visit some working hives! The cost is £17 per person. See Alison or email us on if you’d like to put your name down. The deadline is 7 May.

Finally, why not try a recipe using honey?

Honey Granola
Granola is like a slightly sweetened roasted muesli, which gives it a lot more crunch and chew, as well as some baked nuttiness. It’s the honey that really brings this together: as well as being a preferable form of sweetener, it binds the ingredients to make fun clusters. Try blossom or heather honey for a proper taste of the British countryside in your breakfast bowl. Once you’ve made your own granola there’s no going back to shop-bought.
(Makes around 1kg)

150g honey
60ml sunflower or groundnut oil
250g rolled oats
100g bran
150g sunflower seeds
100g hazelnuts
150g dates
100g dried apricots
100g wheat germ
100g sultanas

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

2 Pour the honey and oil into a pan and heat gently until the honey has melted.

3 In a bowl, mix the oats, bran and sunflower seeds, then pour on the liquid from the pan and mix well. Spread out on a big baking tray.

4 Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning everything three or four times, then leave to cool.

5 Meanwhile, roast the hazelnuts until they turn a golden brown (which takes about 10 minutes), then roughly chop, along with the dates and apricots.

6 When cool, mix everything together with the wheatgerm and sultanas. Store in an air‑tight container; lasts for about a month.

Recipe from The Guardian, 9 February 2013.

Keep the honeybee buzz going!