Yesterday, for the third weekend in the month of February, I was out and about with a spade in my hand. All in the cause of bees and beekeeping. Digging for beekeeping victory, I call it. And on the one other weekend in February, I was taking the Minutes at the Leiston Beekeeping Association AGM, with pen in my hand. And with not a bee in sight. My take-away on February 2015: real beekeeping starts long before you pull on a bee-suit.
But this weekend was special. Yes, I’ve set up Apiaries. In urban and in rural settings. And I have moved bee-hives from on Apiary to another. But this was my first full-Apiary transplant!
The formidable Barnaby Shaw, leading light of social enterprise Bee Urban in Kennington Park has been compelled to move his Bee Barn and bee-yard 200 yards to a new location in the Park. The existing Keeper’s Lodge and Bee Barn are on the site designated for a permanent ventilation shaft for the Northern Line Tube extension and so have to be vacated for the sake of infrastructure development in London. Barnaby and his community project have been based here since 2008, promoting bees and responsible beekeeping in the local area, so this is a real upheaval. What is more, Barnaby and his team have been prolific planters of permanent pollinator-friendly forage in the surrounding garden. A quick inventory: one Bee Barn, four bee-hives, 3 of Barnaby’s famous kiwi fruit vines and a quarter of an acre of sprouting, budding, early-flowering plants carpeting the garden surrounding the Lodge.
Our task was to excavate, pot up and wheelbarrow the best plants and shrubs. And start digging holes for planting at their new home. A genuine full-Apiary transplant. That’s an few hours’ weekend spade-work work for Sarah, Maff and I, but weeks of patient reconstruction for Barnaby and his team of volunteers.
Worse yet, Lambeth Council have been intractable on the imposition of a hefty rent for the new premises behind the Café in Kennington Park. Barnaby and Bee Urban will need strong support from South East Londoners to continue their work enhancing the urban environment and promoting positive, ecologically sound practice around urban greening, building, farming and particularly bee-keeping.
Barnaby is a true all-in beekeeper. Bee Urban is a fantastic local resource for south-east London. Let’s all go out of our way to support them.