October 15, 2012

A new year begins…

Hello Bee-lovers,

I'm very pleased to say that the new term kicked off with a very successful volunteers fair and, from the turn out at our first introductory meeting, it looks like the hours spent applying glitter to our bee decorations paid off. It was lovely to meet and talk to the budding volunteers, both at the fair and at the introductory meeting. (Playing bee Kerplunk was especially fun, as I'm sure many of you would agree!)
bee stall

Getting down to business; I'd like to run through what we discussed in our introductory meeting for anyone who misssed it or needs an update:
Firstly, this year (much like last year) we'd like to focus on three different areas: Conservation work, campus awareness and school visits. Volunteers can pick and choose what they'd most like to do from this selection. Term 1 will mostly focus on the conservation work and the campus awareness, whereas in term 2 we'll be doing our school visits and focusing on Go Green week.
Last year, we found there was a high demand for available conservation work from our volunteers and so this year we hoping to do a lot more of it. Tocil Wood are planning lots of work for Tocil meadow and so we hope to be working with them this term to create a lovely, bee-friendly environment.
We'd also like to keep on top of our leafleting and posters this year, eapesically focusing on more regular postering. Posters and leaflets are a fun way to get creative and try a different (less muddy) way of helping the bees and so we're looking forward to any new ideas our volunteers have.
There's more information to come about school visits and upcoming events so we'll keep you posted through email and our facebook page. Keep checking the blog for documentation of our progress.

Best wishes,

January 05, 2011

Tocil Bee Meadow Education Project

This being the first year that this project has been running, it took a lot of time to get things going. The aim of this project is to inform school children in the local area about the bee meadow, and to tell them about the project about the importance of bees. I got a group of volunteers together from the volunteer’s fair at the beginning of the year, and we worked together to make presentations. We also thought out games that we wanted the children to learn by. Next we approached school teachers at Canon Park Primary School, and Charter Primary School, who were very enthusiastic about having us in their class. We agreed to give two presentations and to arrange a school trip, on which the children were to come and visit the bee meadow themselves. 

October 18, 2010

18th October 2010

Welcome to a new year at Uni. Thank you to everyone who came to our stall at the Warwick Volunteers Fair. It was lovely to meet and talk to so many of you.

Our follow-up meeting was held last Wednesday (13th October) and Wendy and I feel we have met some great people with masses to offer the project. From now on the project will be taking two paths:

Conservation: Led by Pranaypranonline@gmail.com


Email him for where to meet.

October 30th between 11:00 and 3:00pm in the meadow. Voluntary Action Coventry have chosen our project for their Make a Difference Day, so come along and make a difference. Dr Chandler, the entomologist from Warwick HRI who has helped and advised on the project will be coming along and hopefully Roger and Mick our beekeepers will also be there.

September 14, 2010

13th September 2010

You may remember that the Tocil Bee Meadow is part of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 and featured on their website.  Well they are have ing a big debate regarding biodiversity on 7th October and Wendy and I have been invited to attend.  Below is some information about it all.

Public worried about species disappearing, but who’s heard of Nagoya ?

Natural History Museum launches The Big Nature Debate to explore public concerns about biodiversity loss ahead of October Nagoya conference

British people are worried about the drastic loss of native species, the effects of climate change on global wildlife and over-fishing, according to research commissioned by the Natural History Museum. Yet 85% of those asked did not know that next month officials from 193 countries are meeting in Japan to take important decisions about the future of biodiversity, which could affect how we protect, manage and make use of the planet’s diversity of life for decades to come.

In the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the Natural History Museum is launching The Big Nature Debate to get the public talking about biodiversity and the world around them.  Working with International Year of Biodiversity partners the Royal Botanic Gardens , Kew, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the debate will be a platform for information, opinion and discussion about biodiversity issues ahead of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) which is being held in Nagoya , Japan , in October 2010. While governments recognise the importance of the problem, the outcomes from the conference will also rely on ordinary people to understand the issues and help build a more sustainable society. Without this there will be little chance of long-term success.

Dr Robert Bloomfield, Director of the International Year of Biodiversity UK , said ‘The rapid loss of biodiversity and natural systems will affect the lives of everyone in coming decades. From our research we know that one in two people in Great Britain, for example, is really worried about the dramatic loss of nearly 500 species of plants, animals and fungi from England in the last 200 years. Two thirds (65%) of people asked would like to know more about issues such as over-fishing and the loss of biodiversity.

However, species loss is only one part of the problem. The human race relies on the biodiversity of the natural world to maintain the healthy environment in which we all live. Biodiversity loss threatens the health, wealth and well-being of the world’s population and will have consequences for generations to come. It is crucial that we understand the scale of the issues and as a global society respond to them while we still can.

We want to get people talking about these issues and inspire them to make a difference. Very few people (12%) know there is an important meeting next month to take decisions about biodiversity. Only 13% of those surveyed could explain what biodiversity – the amazing variety of life on our planet – is, and how we benefit so much from it. With the Nagoya conference next month, The Big Nature Debate could not come at a more important time and we hope to capture the interest of as many people as possible.’
People can visit www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate where they will be able to quiz the experts, debate issues in forums, subscribe to the RSS feed for latest updates and get biodiversity news through the Museum’s Facebook page or by following the Museum on Twitter.  The site will host thought-provoking blogs from biodiversity experts and other key thinkers on subjects such as what the world might look like in 2050 or if biodiversity loss has reached a crisis point.  There is also the opportunity to pose questions to a panel of scientists for a live streamed debate on 7 October 2010. 

Join the debate. Visit www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate, www.nhm.ac.uk/facebook or www.nhm.ac.uk/twitter

1. The Big Nature Debate will take place on 7 October in the Natural History Museum Attenborough Studio.  It will be streamed live on www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate.

2. The panel of experts include Professor Jon Hutton, Director of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Professor Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Paul Smith, Head of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Dr Chris Lyal , Research Entomologist, the Natural History Museum, Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director for the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

3. The Big Nature Debate is supported by the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 UK Partnership, ZSL and the Royal Botanic Gardens , Kew .

4. The Big Nature Debate is part of the worldwide celebrations of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. For information on events, initiatives and exhibitions across the UK visit www.biodiversityislife.net. The Natural History Museum, Royal Botanical Gardens , Kew and ZSL are some of the 400 partners across England , Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland that make up IYB-UK. The partnership has come together to celebrate biological diversity during 2010. From charities to farmers, councils to wildlife rangers, schools and colleges to zoos, museums and botanic gardens, the UK has one of the strongest programmes in the world to celebrate IYB.

5.      Fieldwork was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Natural History Museum. 1,014 adults aged between 16 and 64 years were surveyed across Great Britain on the online Omnibus survey. Fieldwork was conducted online between 3 and 6 September 2010. Results have been weighted to the known GB population of adults aged 16–64.

So, that is what it is all about. 

Wendy and I will be at the Tocil Bee Meadow stand as part of the Warwick Volunteers day on Friday 8th October, so come and see us and we will tell you how it went on the 7th.


July 14, 2010

14th July 2010

I thought I would mention a few things that have come from the bee project.

Firstly Ellen Moseley who works for Warwick Volunteers and keeps this blog for us gave a five minute talk about why bees are in trouble and why they are so important, as part of a course she is doing. She also talked about the meadow and the work that’s being done to engage the local community, schools etc.

Also we had a school in Coventry contact the blog asking for advice on wildflower planting as they had read all about the project in the newspaper.

Wendy and I went up to the meadow again today, sadly to remove the sculpture, as agreed with the Woodland Trust. The guys who made the sculpture said that someone had contacted them about having a sculpture made for their garden!

Whilst in the meadow, we did notice that the flowers are getting stronger due to the bit of rain we have had and there are more and more cornflowers.

We are hoping the University Estates Office will be able to cut the thistles soon, but if not I will go up there with my shears and see what I can do. This is a problem that we need to get under control as soon as possible.

Hopefully you will have all noticed the wonderful wildflower areas on the main campus particularly the Cryfield and Scarman areas. This all helps to support greater biodiversity, as well as making the campus a more interesting
landscape.  The wildflowers and new native hedgerow planting should give a massive boost to wildlife in the area and Tocil Meadow is part of this
widening picture of nature at the University.

And finally, David Chandler was on C&W radio this morning talking about bees.

Ann Loscombe

July 09, 2010

9th July 2010

On Wednesday Jan Pell from Landlife came down to the meadow. She arrived with a friend in the most amazing peppermint green metallic Morgan Aero 8 handmade car. Yes this is a Top Gear moment. Stuart was on his way to Le Mans for a car festival where thousands of Morgans were going to get together as well as many other cars and as I had visited Le Mans and their museum last year we talked cars for a while and I took lots of photos then Wendy and Jan drew us back to the purpose of the visit – to review the state of the meadow.

Jan was surprised at how invasive our thistle problem was, but assured us it was salvageable and often happened in areas like this which have been left unmanaged. She stressed that it was important we cut the thistles down as soon as possible to stop them seeding and spreading further next year. So we are on to that.

The good news is that we have a carpet of corn chamomile starting to spread across the meadow. This should seed and once the thistles are cut, start to take their place.


There are also a few cornflowers coming through. Jan had hoped to see a mass of them this year but explained that with the lack of rain and the fact that they went in so late it is to be expected that the show would not be breathtaking. But, she said that many of the seeds may still be lying in the meadow dormant due to lack of rain and if they haven’t germinated this year, they may well germinate next year – or if we have some rain after the thistles have been cut, come up later this year.


The meadow also has some wonderful clumps of birdsfoot trefoil which are looking strong.


We showed Jan a little red flower which she thinks might be a scarlet pimpernel, she is going to check, but that is quite rare now and as a traditional wildflower it must have got there by itself because we didn’t plant it – which is fab.


We will keep you posted on the thistle problem but it is nice to know that with some regular cutting we can control it and despite them the flowers are coming through, even in the dry conditions we are experiencing this year. So next year should be much better.

Although we want to get rid of some of the thistles, they are providing wonderful food for bumble bees, of which there are plenty and butterflies, of which there are several varieties, including a rather beautiful moth with bright red wings.

Ann Loscombe

July 08, 2010

8th July 2010

8th July 2010

On Tuesday Wendy and I arranged for a painting session in the meadow. It was a glorious day and we had lots of eager artists happy to sit in the sunshine and draw and paint.

Many chose to draw the sculpture though some drew the hives.


They made some lovely comments.

“What a glorious place – so near to houses and yet a world apart.

Thanks to all those who have made it happen.”

Christine Sutton, Old Milverton

“Loved the foxglove sculpture in peaceful meadows with waiving purple

thistles covered in Meadow Browns, Marbled White and Tortoishell

butterflies. Also the odd bee or two!”

Julie Unitt, Warwick

“Relaxing morning in this lovely meadow looking at the bright foxglove.

Will return next year to see the bees and wildflowers.”

Rosemarie Perry, Norton Lindsay

Everyone arrived about 10:00am and walked up to the meadow from the Arts Centre. Then they sat and drew until about noon when everyone met up for a picnic lunch before drifting off home thoroughly refreshed from a relaxing morning.

Wendy and I gave each participant a packet of borage seeds (provided as bee food by Mick Smith our beekeeper), a booklet from the WI full of information on how and when to plant bee friendly plants, and recipes for food made using bee related products.


The people who attended this event came from Warwick, Leamington Spa, Kenilworth and villages as far away as Norton Lindsay and Fenny Compton. This was a completely different demographic from the weekend when most people had been related to the local community.

Ann Loscombe

July 05, 2010

4th July, 2010

4th July, 2010

Well the weekend was a huge success. We had over seventy people pass through the meadow over the two days.

On the Saturday we talked to many people who all thought the sculpture was beautiful and a great addition to the meadow. They also loved having the bee hives around and many were fascinated by the bees. They also loved the posters made by Year 5 and Year 6 Cannon Park Primary School which were hung around our stand.


On Sunday Roger Wilkes came over with his observation hive and this was a huge hit. People ranging from 1 to 93 years old were enthralled and enjoyed looking for the queen. Roger was brilliant at explaining all about the lives and workings of the bees and hive.

“I liked seeing the bees because I didn’t know very much about bees before, but now I do. And bees are dying out so it’s nice to see someone trying to save them.”  Ellie Bird (aged 12)

“A lot of things I didn’t know about hive destruction, very enlightening.” Nick Coltro (A physics student at the University)

Most of the visitors to our stand were from the local community, regular walkers or dog walkers. They had some great comments.

“As a regular walker in this area, I love the addition of the bee-hives as it will help the wild flowers etc! The sculpture is really different!!!” Lindsey Blundell

“It’s really nice to see such a beautiful sculpture when you are walking your dog.” Laura Payre

People were asking why the sculpture was only going to be up for two weeks and made the following comments.

“Inspiring sculpture. Brings nature to man and vice versa. Works well with the natural surroundings.” E M Lawton

“Really enjoyed The Fox Glove Sculpture and it should definitely be allowed to be a permanent addition.” John Budell – neighbour and dogwalker

“Beautiful addition to this tranquil spot it woud be lovely to see it permanently installed.” L Cristeferlie

“This sculpture is amazing. Brilliant work.” Jenny Freeman

“Love the sculpture!” Charlie


The most pleasing thing of all was that people really got what we were doing. They saw that the planting of the wildflowers, the siting of the bee hives and the addition of the sculpture all marked the area as an important environmental project, which was part of the community and for the community.

“A super project – for the whole community, not only laudable but beautiful too. I do hope the sculpture can stay put as it really sets off an area of special interest and is sympathetic to the natural surroundings.”

Helen Ware

“Great to see such beautiful art linked to environmental issues – and bringing all that to the local communities, both local residents and university students. The foxglove is really impressive and fits in well with the natural surroundings – I hope it can stay in place for longer! Wonderful to see bees at work.” Hilary Dent

Wendy and I will be at the meadow again on Tuesday morning from 10:00 to 1:00pm so come along and meet us.

Ann Loscombe

July 02, 2010

2nd July 2010

Hurray, hurray the sculpture is up.  Come and see it in the meadow tomorrow.,Wendy and I will be there from 10-3pm.
On Sunday Roger Wilkes will bring along his observation hive, so if you want to see what goes on inside a hive, this is your chance.  Roger will be there from 10 till noon.
We have some beautiful posters made by year 5 and year 6 at Cannon Park Primary School all about saving the bees.
Wendy and I will be making skeps out of willow and giving away a packet of seeds to anyone who wants to provide food for the bees.
Hope to see you tomorrow.
ps if you cannot make the weekend, Wendy and I will be at the meadow again on Tuesday from 10 till 1.  Bring your lunch and have a picnic with us.


Ann Loscombe

June 29, 2010

28th June 2010

Just to remind you that next weekend, 3&4th July is Warwickshire Artsweek and the meadow is part of that event. If you would like to meet us, Wendy and I will be on site from 10:00am to 3:00pm both days and from 10:00am to 1:00pm on Tuesday 6th July.

We have some willow so if you want to try your hand at skep making come and give it a go. We also expect Roger Wilkes who is responsible for one of the bee hives on site to attend on Sunday, so he is your man if you have bee related questions. The WI have given us some interesting leaflets about saving bees with some yummy recipes for bee related food (that is foods pollinated or made by bees, not foods made from bees!)

Local resident June from Galliard has very kindly distributed leaflets about the event and how to keep safe around bees, so thank you very much June and look forward to seeing you at the weekend.

The only sad thing is that we are still waiting to hear from the Council where we can place the sculpture so there is a question mark over whether it will be up or not. So, fingers crossed.

Ann Loscombe

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