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Budding Bee Keepers of St Peter’s and St Mary’s enthralled by an introduction to the world of Bees at launch of Bee Art competition for Marlborough in Bloom

Beekeeper Fiona Robinson explains the workings of the hive to a group of eager childrenBeekeeper Fiona Robinson explains the workings of the hive to a group of eager childrenIs there a King bee?  Can boy bees learn to make honey so they don’t get kicked out of the hive at the end of the summer?

These were a couple of questions posed by the children of St Mary’s and St Peter’s in Marlborough when Fiona Robinson of the Wiltshire Bee Centre visited the schools last Monday to give the children an introduction to the world of bees, part of this year’s Marlborough in Bloom programme as one of this year’s main themes is ‘Bees’.

Many of St Peter’s and St Mary’s children will be putting together entries for a ‘Create a Bee’ competition as part of Marlborough in Bloom and their efforts can take many forms - a painting, sculpture, collage, a toy dressed as a bee - as set out in the competition flyer, they are encouraged to ‘bee creative’!

Local artists, Malcolm Ward and Sue Thomson will judge the entries, and prizes will be given to winners in each age group and overall.  Entries will be displayed in the windows of several High Street shops in time for the visit of the ‘Britain in Bloom’ judges visit to Marlborough on 19 July.

Junior BeekeeperJunior BeekeeperBeckie Ambrosini, Lead Art Teacher form St Peter's said:  "The teachers were commenting on how little we all knew about bees, Fiona's talk was so very informative for us as well as the children, who were fascinated by it all".

Other questions for Fiona included:

How do bees make honey?
Worker bees collect nectar (sugary, watery from plants) that they carry back to the hive.  There it is evaporated to remove the water content, and enzymes (produced by the bees) are added to make it into honey.

Can the queen sting?
The queen has a sting – it is straight rather than barbed (like the workers – see later question).  But she doesn’t sting people with it. When the hive raise a queen, they will raise more than one in case anything goes wrong.  The first queen to emerge will kill the other Queens-in-progress to get rid of the competition.

Do bees sleep?
Not as we know it.  A hive is a ‘hive of activity’ 24 hours a day.  Bees will take little cat naps at any time.

How long does it take for a bee to be born?
A worker bee will emerge as an adult 21 days after the egg is laid (16 days for a queen, 24 days for a drone – the mail)

Why does a bee die when she stings?
A worker bee has a barbed sting, and when it goes into our skin she can’t remove it – eventually she will pull away hard enough and the sting rips out of her causing colossal damage and she will die

And, if the questions posed at the beginning are still gnawing away, there isn’t a ‘King Bee’, but up until 150 years or so ago, the belief was that there must be a King to rule the hive, and the role of the ‘boy bees’ (drones) is solely to mate and at the end of the summer they are surplus to requirements and so they get pushed out of the hive.

A ‘buzzy’ summer term lies ahead for the budding artists an St Peter’s and St Mary’s, all contributing towards another successful Marlborough in Bloom campaign for 2016.

pics courtesy of Deb Turnell

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