Canon Adrian Rhodes has joined the Volition team as our Volunteer Bee Coordinator. Known as the “Canon Apiarist” at Manchester Cathedral Adrian has been a beekeeper since 2011, keeping bees at home, on the roof of Manchester Cathedral and is mentor to our volunteers who look after the Beehives at Manchester Cathedral and the Printworks. […]Read More
Sir David Richards has become a patron of Volition Community following a visit last year to see the work of this charity. Welcoming Sir David, the Dean of Manchester thanked Sir David for his commitment to this programme which runs from Manchester and Liverpool Cathedrals. Sir David, encouraged at the outcomes of this programme of […]Read More
A short video showcasing Manchester Cathedral Bees by Adam York Gregory Manchester Cathedral Bees from Adam York Gregory on Vimeo. Bee Hive Cameras We currently have two bee hive cameras upon the flat roof of Manchester Cathedral, click on the play button below to view the bees and their hives. Heavenly […]Read More
This time of year the bee colonies are shrinking in preparation for winter. They cluster in a tight ball to keep themselves and the queen warm until Spring. At the cathedral, we do all we can to help the bees survive the winter – insulate the hives, feed them sugar, and treat for any pests or diseases.
It’s common for up to 50% of hives to die over the winter – the bees really need all the help we can give them.
This week at the cathedral apiary, we checked the bees with the volunteers, topped up their sugar syrup feed, and reconfigured the frames in the brood boxes to make it easier for the bees to find their stores of food in the winter.
We finished early and decided to do a honey tasting. I collect honeys everywhere I go – careful to choose local and from independent/ small scale beekeepers. It’s the only way of knowing that the honey is raw (not heated) and pure (from nectar the bees collect not blended/ created from sugar). I brought a jar of ‘Heavenly Honey’ from the cathedral. This honey was extracted and put in jars by Adrian Rhodes, the lead beekeeper, and volunteers at the cathedral a few weeks ago. You cannot get fresher or purer honey! We compared the flavour, colour and consistency of 5 different honeys from Manchester, Salford, Cheshire, and a Polish honey too! The volunteer beekeepers decided that the cathedral honey was the best – it has a lovely, light colour and flavour – perfect for addition to porridge or put on toast.
We attribute the sweet, fragrant taste to the fact that our bees forage on a good variety of plants and flowers around Manchester and the cathedral, and the Himalayan Balsam down by the river.
With some time to spare, I brought out some sheets of beeswax, candle wick, and a hairdryer, while visiting beekeeper from Manchester and District Beekeepers, Liz Sperling, demonstrated the ancient art of beeswax candle rolling!
Wax is a valuable product from the hive. It is produced by the young worker bees who excrete it from glands in their abdomens. It is used to form the hexagonal cells in honey comb which is then packed with honey. It takes around 10 times more work and energy to create one pound of wax than to create 1 pound of honey! Beekeepers can harvest the wax, melt it down, and use moulds or presses to turn it into sheets with the honeycomb pattern on.
This is a traditional craft, performed by beekeepers for centuries. In Tudor times, children were employed to gently warm the wax in their hands and roll the sheets of wax around a wick. Nowadays we use a hairdryer to soften the wax (cold wax can be brittle) and manipulate it into shape.
The volunteers were very creative with their candle designs – forming different shapes and styles of candle. We even had one that resembled a scroll with a double wick, and a triangular one a bit like a toblerone!
Great work team!