Three quarters of all crops are dependent to some degree on pollination by animals,
overwhelmingly by bees. Without bees global production would drop by a third. We
wouldn’t starve because we would still have all the basic foods such bread, potatoes,
rice and pasta. What we would lose would be all the ones that are not only nicer
to eat but contain our essential nutrients and vitamins. A recent trial on Strawberries
proved just how much better the fruit was from bee pollination. Results from the
self –fertile were worst with those wind pollinated only slightly better. Many were
small or misshapen, poor yield and lacking in flavour compared to the bee pollinated.
These were bigger, brighter coloured, had fewer misshapen fruits, kept better and
had the best sugar-acid ratio. The reason for the difference was found to be the
number of fertilised seeds per berry. Fertilised seeds produce a hormone which help
the fruit to grow and improves quality. Unfertilised seeds produce poor quality
and malformed fruit.
Despite today’s stringent health and safety regulations the Society, together with
the Weybridge division of the Surrey Beekeepers, has been able to re-introduce bees
onto allotments . Requirements were that our apiaries were managed by trained beekeepers
and located behind secure fencing. In 2009 Walton Charity gave us permission to build
an apiary on Rydens Road Allotments under the management of a professional beekeeper.
The five hives he started with soon became a dozen and according to the allotment
tenants there followed a significant increase in quality and quantity of their produce.
The honey from these hives is on sale at Trading.
In 2013 we built an apiary on the Home Farm allotment site in Walton. Following the
advice of Surrey Beekeepers association we limited this to a single beekeeper who
is now up and running with two hives. Weybridge beekeepers website
We had a long wait before a suitable site became available on Elm Grove but eventually
it did and this is where we now have our own apiary. As advised previously we are
restricting it to a single beekeeper as the best way to keep the colonies healthy.
Our Apiary manager currently has five hives but following a highly productive season
has requested permission to expand to accommodate a total of 12 hives from next season.
He has also undertaken the mentoring of another beekeeper who has joined orces with
him with two hives of his own.
Elm Grove honey is on sale in the Trading Hut where we have a large following. Local
honey is highly valued because it is considered to have significant health benefits
because it is in its natural state by not having been unpasteurized