Bee Watch 2016 & 2017

Following an inspirational Meopham U3A talk in Oct-2016 by Dr Nikki Gammans from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, this group was formed at a meeting in Feb-2017. It was decided to organize some initial training & then a series of Bee Watch walks in small groups during the summer months; also to hold occasional group meetings, further training or other events.
BeeWalk is a national recording scheme operated by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to monitor the abundance of bumblebees across the UK. The survey would be impossible without volunteers, who identify & count the bumblebees they see on an hour’s walk each month from Mar to Oct. It can be a very pleasant way to spend an hour or two on a sunny day. Anyone can become a BeeWalker – all you need is a spare hour or so every month to walk a fixed route of about a mile (you choose where it goes), & send in your sightings. It’s essential that the route is fixed to allow direct comparisons of bumblebee population trends over time.

March 27 At an informal meeting of the group at the Cricketers Inn we decided to devise some plans of our own based on the information to be found on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website whilst we waited to hear from Nikki Gammans re training. Notes from this meeting are attached. We identified 3-4 areas where 'Bee Walks' could take place & dates for initial visits were agreed upon.

20 April Bee Identification Training: This was run by Nikki at Trosley Country Park. She was enthusiastic, informative & inspired us to get out & look to see what we could find. We were shown how to net the bees & put them in a small plastic tube. So much easier than trying to take photographs when they are flying free. Bees are then released unharmed after a few minutes. You can read/download our write-up by clicking Beginners Training Day.
23 April: We identified various possible walks & planned to buy nets & plastic tubes, splitting the cost between group members when known. By 9 May group members had paid £6 each & the equipment was purchased.
5 June: We successfully completed our first walks. It was not as easy as it looks either to catch or identify the bees, & was a steep learning curve for us all.
13 June: Bumblebee & wild life surveys at Ranscombe Farm.
During 2017 we operated the following survey walks:
Bee Walk 1 - Meopham Allotments
Bee Walk 2 - Trosley Country Park
Bee Walk 3 - Cobham Mausoleum
Bee Walk 4 - Millbrook Garden Centre
Bee Walk 5 - Ranscombe Farm
Bee Walk 6 - Northfield DA3 (Hartley/New Ash Green Area).
31 October: Our end of season meeting. It was good to hear what had been achieved during the year.It was decided that:-
• The group would reform in February 2018 - enrollment would take place at the monthly meeting with a group meeting in early March. At the first meeting a new group co-ordinator and web editor would be decided.
• The group has a surplus of £10.44 to be carried forward to next season. (See Accounts )
• We would try to find at least one walk that was accessibility friendly. Shorne Country Park, Jeskyns and Ashenbank Wood being possible venues.
12th December - Meopham U3A Monthly Members' Meeting: We made a group presentation to all Meopham U3A members at which we reported on our activities & results during the year for each of our Bee Walks. This appeared have been well received.
ore information & register to take part.