Members of the Society met at the Village Hall on a wet and windy October evening for the last lecture of the year expecting to hear all about "Seafront Gardens in Southsea". Unfortunately the speaker for that topic was unable to attend and so we were entertained instead by a fascinating talk on "Beneficial Bees" given by one of our own members, Ian Jenkins.

Ian recently moved to Arford from Devon and it was there, whilst he was still pursuing a busy working life, that he choose bee keeping as a suitable hobby that would not encroach too much on his job. It has to be said that he, of course, needed some help from his wife at certain times of the year! But generally the bees looked after themselves and Ian gradually became immersed in these amazing little creatures.

Bee Keepers look after Honey Bees but Ian told us that there are many other kinds of bees including solitary bees, many of whom make their homes in the ground. The mason bee chooses to live in brick walls and it can be identified by its red bottom! Apparently all bees have different colour rear ends which help to determine the species. Bees play an important part in our lives, although we might not realise this, and they are currently in decline. They are necessary for about a third of the food we eat in the world and, as gardeners we should ensure that we do all we can to provide a yearlong supply of food for them.

Ian showed us how a hive is made up and how to stock it with a new brood. The way the hive survives throughout the year was incredible and Ian explained the purpose of the worker and drone bees and of course the Queen Bee who is replaced every three years. He also suggested that we eat a spoonful of local honey every day to ward of all ills.

Another interesting fact is that we have a lot of everyday sayings that derive from the bee, for example making a "bee-line" for something is down to the bee's ability to fly straight back to its own hive every time.

Ian was an excellent speaker and kept the audience interested for over an hour, and we are grateful to him for stepping in at the last moment.

There is no meeting in December and the first meeting in 2018 is on the 18th January when Jennifer Carter will be talking about "The Changing Seasons in Monet's Garden".

Updated 27 November, 2017