A hundred years of education and pollination

A buzz of excitement hummed through Chelmsford Museum yesterday evening (Monday 18 June) as Chelmsford Beekeepers celebrated not only the return of the bees to the locally-iconic Museum hive - but also their own 100th anniversary.

Standing amongst the flowers surrounding the Museum in Oaklands Park, Chairman Brian Spencer met with the Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Yvonne Spence; Councillor Susan Sullivan, Cabinet Member for the Museum; and Dave Finkle, Museum Manager, to recognise the organisation's hard work and contributions to the community.

The celebration comes as the Museum's own bees return to their parkland hive with a little help from the Beekeepers, who provided them with a short holiday during the extensive remodelling of the Victorian building. When construction work began, the entire swarm was carefully removed and kept in Chelmsford Beekeepers' own apiary at Hylands Park.

They are now restored to Oaklands Park in a beautiful bespoke hive made from light oak, sourced by the Beekeepers and funded by the Friends of Chelmsford Museum. From 28 May to 1 June, hundreds of children came to see the new hive, learn all about bees and take part in honey-themed activities as part of a special event called 'Show Me The Honey'.

Councillor Susan Sullivan, Cabinet Member for the Museum, said, "Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem. Around a third of all the food that we eat depends on bees to pollinate it, but they are disappearing globally at an alarming rate. Chelmsford City Council is working closely with Chelmsford Beekeepers to support their work and protect these remarkable creatures.

"Bees are famously hard workers, and Chelmsford Beekeepers take a leaf from their book. Not only is the association celebrating its 100th anniversary today, its members have brought enormous benefits for the community in helping to continue and improve the Museum's much-loved hive."

Visitors can see directly into the hive, an educational tool which is becoming particularly important as bees become more threatened by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. As well as displaying the observation hive, Oaklands Park also contains a bee-friendly garden, and the Beekeepers have recently purchased an ornamental hive which sits among the flowers to raise awareness of the bees.

Brian Spencer said, "Few people remember how the Museum first acquired its bees, but the honeybee observation hive has been around for at least fifty years - half of Chelmsford Beekeepers' history - and were recently voted one of its most popular attractions during a public consultation. The whole community, from the Council to local children and museum volunteers, has come together to celebrate the return of this much-loved hive with us and to recognise the importance of the honeybee."

To find out more about beekeeping in Chelmsford, including courses and taster days for budding keepers, visit https://chelmsfordbeekeepers.com. For more information on Chelmsford Museum, please visit http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/museums.

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