This was the year Global Generation teamed up with Branding Agency Wolff Olins and Urban Bees to form the Honey Club, an initiative that has enabled us to involve young people and local business employees in the intricate and mysterious world of bees writes Jane Riddiford.
I am taken back to a hot Friday afternoon; Brian our beekeeper and four of us spend several hours lifting frames out of the hives on the rooftop Wolff Olins Office building looking for the blue dotted queen. The bees are quiet, the smell is delicious – too delicious? Lots of honey is being made, good stores for the winter but alas it has come in such quantity because there is no brood – no eggs.
We think back and remember the queen cells we had seen a month before...the original Queen had died and the worker bees were desperately making a new mother. Had any of them survived? And more importantly had the queen mated?
Then we found her; not that different than the rest of the bees but definitely a Queen. However she was a small Queen which indicated that she had never mated, she had no eggs inside her. She was a virgin Queen.
Throughout the process I felt a sense of awe at the way nature works. A big part of our learning journey with the bees is thanks to Brian McAllum who we still work with.
Brian is an expert in all things bee related; his storytelling has made science come alive. His words have turned a story of life and death into a legend that will live on, not just in the world of bees but perhaps most importantly in the hearts and minds of the next generation.
Fifteen year old Jihaan (pictured below) was one of our first young Bee keepers and this is how she described experience at the time:
“I haven’t been here for three weeks but when I came back the beehives have really changed. It is quite amazing how different it looks. It is like watching a child growing up into an adult. I have changed too; I have more confidence than I did before.
I was surprised they had made a lot of honey since I was gone and that new bees are coming up and old ones dying and there are two virgin queens in one hive. When I started with the bees I was really scared, I was always in the corner.
Now they can be around me and I don’t move and I can control my nerves, normally I would be yelling and screaming, I now know how to move calmly so they leave me alone.