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Buzz along to the Botanic Garden



A bee on Inula hookeri Nicholas Wray

Press release issued: 22 August 2019

What are the medicinal properties of honey and how can a garden make a difference to pollinators? These and many other questions will be answered at a bee festival later this month.

Now in its tenth year, the University of Bristol Bee and Pollination Festival will take place at the Botanic Garden, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September from 10 am to 5 pm.

The festival, which has become an important feature in the south west's horticultural, beekeeping and wildlife calendar, will highlight research by the University's School of Biological Sciences into what is being done to better understand the reasons for the current decrease in bee and pollinator numbers and how it can be reversed.  

At this year’s event, biologist and award-winning nature photographer, Phil Savoie, will take visitors on a photo safari into the private lives of native bees with his talk 'Wild bees in my garden'.

There will also be an art exhibition called 'Facing up to beetles' by Michael Darby, who was previously Deputy Director at the V&A Museum and who now pursues his life-long fascination with beetles.

Nick Wray, Botanic Garden Curator, said: "The importance of insects as pollinators in maintaining healthy ecosystems and agricultural systems is well understood. The worrying demise of their populations and habitats is frequently in the news. This year’s Bee and Pollination Festival brings together beekeepers, science and natural history research to provide an amazingly stimulating festival.

"There are some interesting talks by experts in their field, from the medicinal properties of honey to how to improve your garden for pollinations. With family-friendly exhibits and demonstrations, there are activities for everyone from willow weaving workshops, children’s trails and popular cider and honey sales."

Visitors to this year's festival will have the opportunity to try and identify the honey in honey cakes. Bristol Beekeepers have commissioned a local cafe to make a range of cakes, which will include dairy and gluten free options.

Honey cakes have enormous cultural and religious significance and are an essential part of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebrations.  Slavic countries also have their own version called Medovik (Meдobᴎk) layer honey cake. It is thought the cake was created in the 19th century by a young chef who sought to impress Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, wife of Russian Emperor, Alexander I.

The latest information about Asian Hornets, who are a major threat to biodiversity, the honey industry and food production with a single insect capable of killing 50 pollinators in a single day, will also be available at the festival.    

Visitors this year can join a poetry walk at 11am and 2pm with the IsamBards Poetry quartet and hear their new poems about pollinators. 

A selection of other exhibitors include Filberts; Writhlington School Orchid ProjectWanborough Herb NurseryTynings ClimbersBee DepotBristol Naturalists SocietyFriends of the Downs and Avon GorgeKelvin Bush OrchidsMad Apple Cider and Bees for Development.

Along with a potted fruit orchard, a beehive in the vegetable beds and a full programme of international speakers in the Linnaeus Study Room, demonstrations will range from beekeeping techniques and the workings of a live hive, to learning how to build bee skeps and how to weave willow sculptures.

People will also be able to enjoy the new South African rondavel and the developing tea garden in the Chinese Cultural Garden, together with the glasshouses, home to the Giant Amazon Waterlily, tropical fruit, medicinal plants, orchids, carnivorous plants, cacti and the unique Sacred Lotus collection.

The Bee and Pollination Festival will take place at the Botanic Garden at The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, Bristol, BS9 1JG on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September 2019 from 10 am to 5 pm. 

 Admission is £8.80 with gift aid (£8 without) and is free to under 18s, Friends of the Garden, University of Bristol staff and ALL students.

Further information

About the University of Bristol Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden has a strong evolutionary theme and cultivates over 5,000 plant species forming four core collections that illustrate plant evolution, plants from Mediterranean climates, useful plants (including Chinese and Western herb gardens) and rare and threatened native plants to the Bristol area. 

Star attractions include an amazing dell demonstrating the evolution of land plants including the dinosaurs' favourite plants: ginkgos, cycads, tree ferns, monkey puzzles and the Wollemi Pine.  Other delights include glasshouses, home to giant Amazon water lilies, tropical fruit and medicinal plants, orchids, cacti and a unique sacred lotus collection. 

Normal admission and opening times
The Botanic Garden is open from 10 am until 4.30 pm or dusk in the winter (except during weekends in February and March when opening times change to 10.30 am until 3 pm).

The Garden is open Monday to Friday and closed at weekends from December until the end of January.

From February until the end of November the Garden is open for seven days a week including bank holidays.

Admission is £6.60 (Gift Aid payment)* or £6 (non - Gift Aid payment); free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 18.

*The adult gate entry fee of £6.60 includes a 60p voluntary donation which UK taxpayers can pay, allowing the Botanic Garden to benefit from a 25 per cent refund of tax from the government on each adult ticket.

Dogs (except registered disability assistance dogs) are not permitted in the Botanic Garden.

The garden is accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters with a designated path leading around the garden and glasshouses. Disabled toilet facilities are available on site and a wheelchair is available upon request from the Welcome Lodge.

Pre-booked guided tours of the garden for groups of ten upwards are available seven days a week.  Please contact the garden for further information.  There is a charge for the guide of £8 per person.

Directions to the Botanic Garden
From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, the Botanic Garden at the Holmes is 150 metres on the right.

Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden. For more information go to the Friends of the Botanic Garden or contact Sue Beech, The Membership Secretary, email:

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