Behind the scenes at the Manchester District Beekeeping Association
- Credit: Archant
Prestwich has a real buzz about it
You may not know it, but there’s a buzz in Heaton Park. More specifically, it’s an apiary full of bees at Dower House. Inside this 19th century plain brick building decorated with a column façade is the Manchester District Beekeeping Association, which has support of 220 members. Every Sunday MDBKA, which has just achieved charitable status, open their doors to allow members of the public to come in and learn about bees, beekeeping and how honey is made.
‘It’s fascinating how people will just stumble by Dower House on a walk through Heaton Park and come in not realising we are here,’ said Lena Crowe, apiary manager. ‘It’s a hidden gem.’
The association, which was first formed in 1895, moved to the Dower House location in 2004. They have around 40 core members who regularly help out and maintain the apiaries and honey extraction. ‘I joined because I love bees,’ said Joy Jackson, who became a member in 2009. ‘Not only is it fascinating to learn about bees, there is also a great social side and it’s nice when everyone comes together and you have ten different answers or opinions about something.’
MDBKA run around four courses per year, where visitors can learn the basic knowledge around bees and beekeeping over two days as well as the practical side. They keep around 20 colonies at Dower House in the garden, as well as an observation hive inside.
‘The courses bring all different types of people and characters,’ said Lena. ‘From retired people to teenagers, we even have a 12 year-old signed up with his mum for the next one. You can just lose yourself and become immersed in the bees.’
Visitors can also purchase a one pound jar of Heaton Park honey for £5.50, which is extracted from the apiaries in a lab to the rear of the building. ‘It’s great to explain to people how the honey they are purchasing is made here,’ said Lena.
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