Buzzworks Association aims to help people learn about bees
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 May 2020
A Hitchin-based charity teaching beekeeping and educating children and families about the amazing and important honeybee
In the past few years there has been a growing awareness of the importance of bees to the health of our planet and those living on it. Buzzworks Association aims to help people of all ages to experience these amazing little insects first-hand, as well as to learn about the many other important pollinators. The charity has two Hitchin sites dedicated to this work: the Buzzworks Discovery Centre for group visits of children and open days, and the Honeyworks Beekeeping Centre for budding beekeepers.
A child visiting the discovery centre – for example with their school or a Beaver group – can see a live colony of honeybees in the classroom observation hive and even put on a child-size beekeeper’s suit for a visit into the small apiary. They can find out about the incredible things a bee can do, what goes on in the hive, how the bees find their way to the best flowers in up to a three-mile radius of their colony before gathering nectar and pollen for food (playing a crucial part in pollination) and find their way back home again. Children can also explore the lovely pollinator-friendly garden and see what kind of flowers the bees love. There will usually be an experienced beekeeper on hand to answer questions and tell them more. There is an informative exhibition to peruse, and fun bee-related activities on offer, including tasting the honey made on site.
The charity’s open days are free and designed for the whole family to enjoy. Visitors can mould a candle or small cup from beeswax, make a bee collage, follow a nature trail around the garden, explore the exhibition, see bees close-up in the observation hive with a beekeeper on hand to answer questions, try honey cake and buy honey to take home.
Honeyworks includes the main apiary and also has a lovely pollinator-friendly garden. The facility is used for mentoring budding beekeepers, running taster days for those considering taking up apiculture, and offering bee experience days for people with a general interest. These days are popular gifts and there is a voucher available.
The charity’s educational work is mainly funded by a stall at Hitchin Craft and Farmers’ Market, held on the last Saturday of each month. The stall sells honey and other bee-related products such as beeswax wraps, natural honey soap and beeswax candles. The charity said, ‘We have many regular customers who swear by our honey for alleviating coughs, allergies and skin conditions.’
All of this work relies solely on volunteers, who maintain the sites, look after the bees, plan and run educational and beekeeping sessions and run the market stall. Buzzworks is always happy for new volunteers to join this small, friendly organisation and particularly needs someone to oversee the sites’ maintenance. Some activities require regular commitment (eg managing a hive) but others can be dipped in and out of (such as the stall rota). If you are interested in Buzzworks’ work or would like to get involved, you can find out more and contact the charity via buzzworks.org.uk or via the BuzzWorks Association Hitchin Facebook page.
Due to the current coronavirus restrictions, Buzzworks has cancelled its taster events and open days until further notice. The market stall is also not operating at the moment. The charity is looking to sell its honey by other means – see the website for updates.
This article is by North Herts Centre for Voluntary Services. There are seven CVS in the county offering hundreds of volunteering opportunities. Visit hertscvs.org.uk for details.