The Splashpoint Centre was a hive of activity this morning, because the queen had arrived for a royal residency.
In fact, two queens moved in – queen bees, that is – to populate Worthing’s first community-supported hives, in a bid to make our town the most bee-friendly in Sussex.
Earlier today, two nuclei containing 2,000 buckfast worker bees and two queens were picked up from Paynes Southdown Bee Farms in Hassocks and delivered to the roof of the leisure centre in Brighton Road.
Anne Thwaites, co-founder of the We Are FoodPioneers social enterprise behind the Worthing Honey Collective project, said schools like Our Lady of Sion School were interested in getting hives.
The project will also be opening a more publically-accessible hive at Worthing Leisure Centre in Shaftsbury Avenue this month, training volunteer beekeepers and launching a study group in September. The collective aims to help save the declining bee population and educate our town. She said: “There are a huge amount of benefits to having pollinators protected. Without them, we would be eating grains – but no fruit or vegetables.”
After the bees get their bearings, the colonies will be moved into their cedarwood hives. The queens will begin to produce 2,000 eggs a day, and the hives should be fully productive in April, with the first harvest in September. Honey will then be sold to local restaurants and shops. Anne said: “It will be a flowery honey, because they will be foraging in people’s back gardens, but we also hope it will have a sea salt taste from the seafront plants.”
Terry Gough, who works as an engineer at Splashpoint, is training to look after the hives. He said: “I moved here because it is such a gorgeous place – but it won’t be without the bees.”
His guru is Tony Bennett – not the signer, but the beekeeper from Malvern Close, Worthing. The 74-year-old has kept bees for 15 years, and is in the Worthing Beekeepers Association, which has grown to over 100 members. He said: “There is interest in the environment, climate change and the decline of bees and bumblebees – people want to do something to help out.”
South Downs Leisure health and wellbeing manager Sally Honey has the perfect name to be involved in the project. She said: “We wanted to get involved because it is part of the community, environmentally-aware and an important cause to support.”