Bee and pollination festival 2018

1 September 2018, 10.00 AM - 2 September 2018, 5.00 PM

University of Bristol Botanic Garden

Please note, on Saturday 1st September there will be road closures due to a concert on the Downs. Click Travel advice (PDF, 69kB)‌ for further information. Sunday 2nd will be back to normal.

A world without strawberries, apples and chocolate would be very bleak indeed. All these delights rely on insect pollination. Find out the very latest stories on how you can help the bees and other vital pollinators at this year’s Festival which also celebrates the 90th anniversary of Bristol Beekeepers’ Society annual Honey show. Plenty is happening in the Bee world at the moment including the threat of the Asian Hornet, the debate about whether to feed bees in heat waves and how ordinary gardeners can help the bees and other pollinators to survive and thrive.

Visitors to this year’s Bee and Pollination Festival will discover a great many delights whether they are interested in bees and other pollinators, or want to learn about growing fruit and vegetables, buy beautiful plants to enhance their own garden or just want to spend the day visiting a beautiful Botanic Garden and enjoying amazing locally made refreshments. Mad Apple Cider will also be there to introduce you to the world of cider.

We are delighted to welcome Feed Bristol for the first time. Feed Bristol is Avon Wildlife Trusts’ six acre outdoor learning hub and native wildflower nursery where they champion conservation and ecology in a productive food growing setting. Their aim is to inspire people to take action to create a nature rich Avon.

“We demonstrate the value of nature through ecological land management and wildlife gardening to enhance biodiversity. The site provides a unique and inspiring setting to support well-being, outdoor education and social enterprise. We promote a holistic people centred ecological systems approach so that food growers, schools, communities and businesses can create places where people and wildlife thrive.” Matt Cracknell, Project Manager.

A major component of the weekend is the series of talks by international experts in their field, in the Linnaeus Study Room. Clara Montgomery (University of Bristol researcher) gives a taster of her talk: ‘Do bees dream of electric flowers’. “Bumblebees generate a positive static electric charge as they fly along. When they approach flowers, the difference in electric charge between the bee and the flower creates an electric field that can cause pollen to jump through the air. This can potentially allow pollination to occur without the bee actually having to land on the flower.

Bees use a large variety of senses to locate the best flowers, most commonly sight and smell but also a load of senses we don’t have. One of the things they can sense is the electric field around a flower. When they get close to a flower this electric field causes the bees hairs to stand on end. The electric fields around flowers might help the bees decide which flowers to visit and help them make foraging decisions.”

The latest news on the threat of the Asian Hornet is being brought from Devon by Colin Lodge who will speak about the Asian Hornet Action Teams (AHAT). While this intruder is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, it does however, pose a risk to honey bees.

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in June in the Bury area of Lancashire. It was spotted by a member of the public in a cauliflower, which has since been traced back to Boston, Lincolnshire.

Another newcomer to the Festival is skep maker and storyteller, Chris Park, who lives and works on organic farmland close to the Oxon/Wilts border. He keeps bees there, some of the colonies being housed in traditional bee skeps and log hives, amongst much arts and crafts. Chris is a professional storyteller and an entertaining lecturer upon honey bees, beekeeping history, heritage, folklore and mythology and everything in-between.'

There will be a potted fruit orchard and a beehive in the vegetable beds alongside the reflective pool and grand marquee.

A selection of other exhibitors include University of Bristol Biological Science researchers, Wanborough Herb Nursery, Tynings Climbers (Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) gold medal winners) Bee Depot (everything a beekeeper could dream of) Bristol Naturalists Society, Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge, Kelvin Bush Orchids, Writhlington School Orchids, Mad Apple Cider (tastings) Bees for Development etc.

Nick Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden, said: “The annual Bee and Pollination Festival brings together researchers and public in an environment where they can share their experiences and knowledge of the importance of insect pollination. We are delighted to host the Bristol Beekeepers in this their 90th Annual Bristol Honey Show, which combined with the University researchers will make for a unique experience for visitors.”

Demonstrations will range from beekeeping techniques and the workings of a live hive, to learning how to build bee skeps and weave enchanting willow sculptures.

The garden will be ablaze with summer colour. Do not miss the glasshouses, home to the Giant Amazon Waterlily, tropical fruit, medicinal plants, orchids, cacti and the unique Sacred Lotus collection. Visitors will also be able to enjoy “The Impossible Garden” created by internationally renowned visual artist, Luke Jerram.

Admission is £5.50 (includes 50p gift aid donation) and is free to under 18s, Friends of the Garden, University of Bristol staff and ALL students. Free tours of the garden throughout the Festival. Refreshments.

Bees take centre stage at the festival.

See displays and talks throughout the weekend.

There is much to see in the Garden too.