By Katie Martin, Community Liaison Officer, QinetiQ
Katie explains what QinetiQ is doing at MOD Pendine to help the declining bee population
Honey bees (apris mellifera) collect pollen, nectar and water to feed themselves and their larvae and, in so doing, pollinate over 90 different fruit, flowers, vegetables and crops, which puts food on our plates. Worryingly, the number of bees and colonies has rapidly decreased over the past few years.
So here at MOD Pendine, one of the ranges that QinetiQ operates for UK MOD, we’ve bought a hive of honey bees and I’m learning to be a bee keeper, as part of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programme, and as an addition to the other environmental projects here on the Pendine site.
Pendine is part of the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation, the Carmarthen Bay Dunes Special Area of Conservation, Laugharne and Pendine Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and a small area of the Taff Estuary Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). By managing the sites effectively, often in partnership with local or national organisations, we can have a positive effect on the environment in which we work, demonstrate our commitment to our local communities, and contribute to UK biodiversity.
Our long-term aim with the bees is to use the hive to teach local children about the life of honey bees and how important they are. We chose the Buckfast species, as they’re prolific and industrious, as well as being easier to handle. They’re capable of high honey production and are generally more resistant to disease.
The bees (delivered by a surprised courier in July) have been transferred into their new hive. I’ve assured that the queen is safe in the brood box and unable to escape the hive.
I check the bees weekly and during October I’ll add an extra sugar source to the hive to help them over winter. Hopefully by next spring, the colony should be strong enough to swarm into a second colony, which we plan to catch.