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Sample Sidebar Module

This is a sample module published to the sidebar_bottom position, using the -sidebar module class suffix. There is also a sidebar_top position below the search.
News and Views
The tree maintenance team in Oxford City Council (OCC) Parks department were recently faced with the need to take down a dangerous old Scots pine in Bury Knowle Park. The tree was severely decayed and was the subject of recent limb failures, rendering it potentially dangerous to members of the public. It was also the home of a feral colony of honey bees. Accordingly OCC contacted the Oxfordshire Bee Keepers Association to ask for our help in re-homing the bees.
 
On 27 July a team assembled consisting of Max Coles, Dan Stevens and Alex Fenton from OCC and Kevin Mewis and Katargyna Benka from OBKA. The tree surgeons cut away the large branch containing the colony and lowered it to the ground.
 
News Jul 29 16 1
 
Once the branch was on the ground they opened up the bees nest with chainsaws and handsaws so that the OBKA team could get at the bees and honeycomb inside.
 
News Jul 29 16 2

 

Max protected by a borrowed bee smock makes the initial opening.

 
At this stage there were quite a few angry bees around, wondering what was happening to their home. Fortunately the parks team had put up a barrier to keep the public at bay with a radius of about 30 yards. Even so those of us who weren't wearing bee suits did get chased a fair way outside that area from time to time. 
 
Kevin and Katargyna got busy transferring the bees from the tree cavity to a hive by cutting out the comb and tying it into frames which could be put in the hive. They also moved bees across paying close attention to try and spot the queen and make sure they got her moved into the new home.
 
News Jul 29 16 3
 
Alex, Kevin and Max studying how to extract the colony, with Katargyna in the background.
 
Eventually most of the comb and brood, a large number of bees, and we believe the queen, had been transferred to the hive ready for relocation to a new home at one of Kevin's apiaries near Banbury. Kevin is hoping that this feral colony may have favourable characteristics which have enabled it to survive despite the presence of varroa mites in the area.
 
When the job was completed, the public's safety had been protected by the removal of an old and dangerous tree, and the colony of bees had been saved to live in a new location.
 
Article by Jonathan Clark

Emma Simpson-Wells, an MSc Student at Nottingham University studying Biological Photography & Imaging, attended the Woodstock apiary clean up day on Saturday 28 May. She wrote up her visit and sent it to us, with some of the photos she took. Here is what Emma wrote.....

 

Watching the hive inspector deftly pulling out frame after frame of honeycomb, the space between us thick with the hum of bee bodies, he brazenly brushed away a layer of workers in order to point out a queen cell and I laughed inwardly at how gingerly I had approached the hives with my camera earlier that day. I also found myself questioning why on earth I had decided to place myself right in the middle of thousands of armed insects.

My MSc Biological Photography course is a unique one, combining wildlife imaging, science communication and a bit of design. For our ‘big final project’ I chose to investigate bees in the city and urban beekeeping. I’ve always had a soft spot for the striped little pollinators and promoting the importance of creating green space within our cities is important to me. So I contacted my local apiary managers, Kevin Mewis and Jonathan Clark, who kindly invited me to come along to the apiary clean up day in Woodstock, where the regional bee inspector would open up the hives for a full disease inspection.

The handful of hives are found within Marlborough School, bordered by a modest garden, a playing field and the suburbs. After some quick advice from Jonathan and under the shelter of a bee smock, I knelt down at the side of entrances and start snapping away. After days of chasing them around my neighbours' gardens, it was such a treat! Countless bees coming and going, allowing me to alter my camera settings and use my flash to try and freeze them in flight.

In the afternoon the hives were opened and I realised that the individuals I had seen coming and going were but a fraction of the entire colony. The air was soon full of bees, although the group of expert and aspiring beekeepers seemed to hardly notice, so attentive were they on assessing the health of hives and spotting queen cells. The hives were all calm natured (not a single sting was deployed), happy and healthy, except for a small one which was to be taken away for some TLC.  Interestingly, there is a less than 3 metres or more than 3 miles rule for moving a hive. Less than 3 miles and they will keep trying to go back to the original location!

It was a great way to spend a day. The managers of the Woodstock apiary clearly love what they do and are very good at it. It was also great to see so many people keen on learning how to keep bees, which all goes towards supporting the vital role they play within ecosystems as pollinators.

 
Emma Simpson-Wells,
MSc Student at Nottingham University