Green drinks: Bungay Community Bees

Green Drinks: Bungay Community Bees

Tuesday 15th February, 7:30pm at the Green Dragon

With Elinor McDowall, Gemma Parker and other members of Bungay Community Bees


STOP PRESS! BCB was the lead story in this week’s Beccles and Bungay Journal

Inspired by a desire to help everyones favourite (indispensable) pollinators, Sustainable Bungay established what is probably the first Community Supported Apiculture (CSA) scheme in the UK – possibly the world! Lauded by the Soil Association and a major influence on the Mayor of London’s Capital Bee project, Bungay’s Community Beekeepers are entering their second year with plans for exciting new education and outreach projects.

We’ve invited community beekeepers Elinor McDowall and Gemma Parker along with other members of BCB to tell us more about the plight of the honey bee, how community beekeeping works and BCBs plans for 2011 and beyond. As usual we’ll ask them to speak briefly about what they’re doing, answer questions from the room as a whole and then circulate as we break into less formal conversations.

Over the past year lots of other groups have expressed an interested in community beekeeping – some from as afar afield as Canada and the USA – but most quite local. BCB has promised to organise a weekend  workshop for these groups but it won’t happen until the bees are more active; the Green Drinks evening will provide an excellent insight into the workings of the project.

For those who don’t know anything about BCB there is a short precis below – there is also lots of information on the Sustainable Bungay website.

Bungay Community Bees in brief:

Bungay Community Bees (BCB) demonstrates the emphasis Transition places on raising awareness and building a sense of community through practical actions and activities. To date BCB has been funded through a subscription scheme based on the increasingly popular community supported agriculture (CSA) model. This year the group is considering adopting a more formal structure, becoming a social enterprise and moving out from the umbrella of transition initiative Sustainable Bungay.

In its first year BCB has:

  • Raised £800 and bought hives, equipment, training and insurance
  • Engaged 37 members who’ve bought annually renewable £20 ‘shares’ in the project (representing about 90 people)
  • Established two small apiaries on the outskirts of Bungay
  • Held regular meetings, opportunities to visit the hives and offered formal training
  • Actively communicated the work of the group through: blog posts, press releases, social networking, local TV and radio
  • Established two subsidiary groups, Plants for Bees and Education and Outreach. In 2011 these will work with local schools and community groups
  • Inspired other groups all over the country (and internationally) to do the same. Most significantly the BCB model has been a major influence on the Mayor of London’s Capital Bee project and BCB members spoke at the recent Bee Summit held at the Royal Festival Hall – 50 similar groups are now being established in London
  • Created a community of friends around the hives and a feeling of mutual support and learning – none of the BCB beekeepers were particularly experienced at the start of the project
  • Engaged with other local beekeepers through the Waveney Beekeepers group.

BCB members feel confident and inspired and Sustainable Bungay plan’s to apply the CSA approach to other food and craft projects. BCB shows how Transition initiatives act as a catalyst for change, gathering people and ideas together, building trust and empowering them to act. Projects like BCB evolve at their own pace – often this can be a (frustratingly) slow process –  but it’s vital to ensure community leadership and ownership. Hard work, a clear collective vision and a certain amount of trust are also required if projects like BCB are to work.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday!

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