It’s a grey day today, a good day for looking back to a warmer one in the summer when Bungay Community Bees joined with Lesley and the Libray Community Garden to host a Bee Tea. Each year the Library Garden central bed has a different theme and this year it is edible plants. In hindsight it may seem perfectly obvious, but many plants good for us to eat are also great for bees. However, this was as much about ‘border’ plants and herbs as it was about crop producing plants.
After a brief introduction to some of the issues involved with bee decline; largely habitat loss, insecticide use (in particular neonicotinoids) and intensive beekeeping methods, we enjoyed discussing gardening techniques and other ways in which bees/pollinators can be supported. A common theme brought up at several of our gatherings has been the use of public spaces such as playground/park margins and verges, it shouldn’t be so difficult to plant these areas and allow them to flourish before cutting them back. And sometimes it’s as much about leaving plants in place to flower, as it is about planting new ones.
Mark Watson created one of his rather special herbal tea blends made from bee-friendly plants and was kind enough to enlighten us about what he put in. Unfortunately we can’t remember the complete list, but anise hyssop, lemonbalm and spearmint were certainly involved. Mark’s teas and jellies are always delicious, but this was his best yet – but of course! Bees are involved with pollination of many fruits and other yummy staples such as chocolate so it wasn’t hard to come up with biscuits and cake to accompany the tea, but my favourite was Lavender Shortbread made by Gemma (of Humble Cake). Which I’m happy to see is still on sale in the Three Willows and Earsham Street cafe’s (so go and grab some if you’re in Bungay…. Quickly).
While we mingled and chatted about various bee and plant related topics, including the benefits of top bar hives in ‘bee-centred’ beekeeping, we made bee and bug hotels which should now be gracing various garden corners around Bungay. Such a good way to use up old bottles, cardboard and canes. Don’t forget that a pile of old stalks and leaves can be invaluable to insects so tuck some away in a secluded corner or under the hedge… It was a lovely afternoon, one of those that affirms our purpose as a community group. So thank you all!