Its Your Neighbourhood

SBKA wins highest level ‘Outstanding’ award from Royal Horticultural Society.  On the 29th of September 2023 Dave Bourne and John Adams attended a presentation ceremony at the Manor Hotel, Meriden. The ceremony was for The Heart of England in Bloom, It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards which is part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom competition.

Some 150 people attended the award ceremony from groups all over the Midlands area, and from groups as diverse as from sheltered accommodation, allotment societies, municipal parks managers, ‘Friends of’ groups etc.  The Its Your Neighbourhood Awards are given following an assessment, judging against three criteria of Community Participation, Environmental Responsibility, and Gardening Achievement. The Conduit Head Apiary was assessed in July, and we did not know the outcome until the presentation day.

SBKA wins highest level ‘Outstanding’ award from Royal Horticultural Society

There are five levels of awards: Establishing, Improving, Advancing, Thriving, and Outstanding.  SBKA were awarded an Outstanding Award, achieving between 86-100% of the possible score. It was good to get recognition of the work all the volunteers have done at Conduit Head, and our outreach to local communities.  The awarded Certificate is now proudly displayed in the Brian Goodwin Beekeeping Centre.

Grant awarded

During a visit to Conduit Head apiary, Chris Lemon, the Shrewsbury Town Councillor for the Radbrook Ward, was impressed with what the Association volunteers had achieved at the apiary since 2016 when we took over the custodianship of the site. He suggested that we should apply, with his support, for a Local Councillor Grant to carry out work at the site that would benefit the local community.

Given Chris is a Green Party Councillor we applied for £500 to plant a shrubbery of pollinator plants, to seed the areas in front of the hives with a local meadow mix, and to build two bee hotels. Our application was successful, and with a £100 contribution from SBKA funds we have started to prepare the ground and seed. The call volunteers to dig the area in the apiary and move c 5 tonnes of woodchip for weed suppression at the shrubbery site resulted in a good turnout for five morning sessions.

We are now starting to plant shrubs and have seeded half of the apiary meadow, the other half to be dug next winter. Last year we planted several hundred snowdrops – this this year they have flowered, in future years we can expect a better show.

Fish release

January saw Harry Ballard and Shannon Walround, from the Environment Agency, release twenty 1-year old Crucian carp into the stream at the Conduit Head Apiary. The release was part of a nationwide project to protect the genetic diversity of species. Crucian carp are being released in to isolated waterbodies where there are no other fish are present, preventing any interbreeding.

Conduit Head was identified as a possible release site by Stu Gamble, another EA employee, who came to the apiary to see what his father Paul had been doing on a Wednesday and Saturday morning for the last 6 years. Harry visited the site and agreed. The first stage was to get the water body registered with CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), then a Live Fish Movement Permit from the EA, which we were granted in August 2023. Then we waited for the fish to arrive from the EA’s fish farm at Calverton, Nottingham. Coarse fish are bred at Calverton to restock after pollution incidents, hence the wait until it was necessary to bring fish to the river Severn catchment. As well as being part of a national biodiversity project, the fish will be another attraction for visitors to the apiary.