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What’s buzzing at the Botanic Garden?

A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) extracts nectar from an Aster flower using its proboscis

A European honeybee (Apis mellifera) extracts nectar from an Aster flower using its proboscis John Severns

Press release issued: 2 September 2013

A Bee and Pollination Festival this weekend [Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September] at the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden aims to highlight the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and the importance of bees and other pollinators for food production.

The Bee and Pollination Festival will take place at the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden at The Holmes, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September 2013 from 10 am to 5 pm.

The festival 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.  

The theme of this year’s event is vegetable and fruit growing and the allotments team at Bristol City Council will show how garden displays can be improved.

The festival will host the Bristol Branch of the Avon Beekeepers Association annual Bristol Honey Festival, with displays of honey and bee products.  A live hive will give visitors an insight into the workings of the honeybee along with talks and displays on the importance and pleasure of keeping bees. These will include live demonstrations of beekeeping from inside a netted enclosure in the grounds of the Botanic Garden so that people of all ages will be able to safely experience the world of bees.

Nick Wray, Curator at the Botanic Garden, said: “Many wild flowers and crop plants depend on insect pollinators.  The festival will highlight the important role that bees have in pollinating plants and the numerous ways in which we can help them to carry out this vital role.”

The festival will not just focus on UK issues. In line with the Botanic Garden’s mission objectives: to educate, communicate and conserve, the display by the Bees for Development Trust  (BfD) will show how it supports beekeeping for biodiversity, sustainability and livelihoods.

Beekeepers have a vested interest in conserving the forests and diverse vegetations where bees live and feed. Many different species of bee are hived and their products harvested for food and medicine. BfD works through its network of beekeepers and partner organisations in over 120 countries to train, inform and improve beekeeping skills.  A couple of bee colonies can generate income that allows a family to buy essential medicine or send a child to school.

Free demonstrations and talks will take place throughout the festival, which will  range from beekeeping techniques and the workings of a live hive, to research projects about urban pollinators, how to build insect hotels and weave enchanting willow sculptures.

Exhibitors at the event include Butcombe Brewery, which will be providing beer tastings, and Riverford Organic Farms will return to expand on the organic growing story. Orchid enthusiasts, including Writhlington School Orchid Project and Kelvin Bush orchids, will show the relationship between pollinators and flowers in a display of orchids. 

Bristol Naturalists will give advice on identifying bees, the Friends of Downs and Avon Gorge will explain their activities, which protect and enhance the area for all the users and wildlife.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust will show how to make gardens more bee-friendly whatever the budget and a variety of nurseries will be selling insect-friendly plants together with expert gardening advice.

Art displays include metalwork sculptor, Willa Ashworth, ceramicist, Karen Edwards and Botanic Garden art tutor, Jenny Brooks.

On the Sunday [8 September], Mike Feingold, a tutor on the Bristol Permaculture Design Course, will be demonstrating apple pressing and mashing and visitors are invited to bring their own apples to make their own juice.

Tours will be offered throughout the weekend that will give visitors the chance to see and learn something new about the garden which will be ablaze with September colour, including many autumn flowering salvias, anemones, grasses, toad lilies and hardy bromeliads.

The Bee and Pollination Festival at the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden, The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, will take place Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September from 10 am to 5 pm.  Light refreshments will be available.

Entry to the festival is £3.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under-16.


Further information

The University of Bristol's Urban Pollinators Project with partners at Bristol City Council's Meadow Bristol project won the Mayor's Bristol Genius Award at the city’s 2013 Festival of Ideas awards evening for their work on urban flower meadows in Bristol.

This year the Urban Pollinators Project is creating 15 large meadows in parks and schools across the city in association with Meadow Bristol who are providing many of the meadow sites.

About the Botanic Garden

September: Open Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm [except for events].
October: Open Monday to Friday and Sundays from 10 am until 4.30 pm.

Admission is £3.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under-16.

The garden also offers private day, evening and weekend guided tours for groups and gardening or any other leisure clubs. Please contact the garden for further information. There is a charge for the guide.

Directions to The Holmes

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 Holmes is 150 m 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 or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

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