Members are advised that all Portsmouth Allotment Beekeeping sites come under the jurisdiction of our Association under an Agreement with Portsmouth City Council dated April 1998. The terms and conditions are:-
- Beekeepers have to be members of our Association
- be experienced or under the supervision of competent Association members
- Members must seek prior approval from our Association before setting up Apiaries on Allotment sites.
Ian Child is the co-ordinator for all member enquiries and is the liaison officer between the Association and Portsmouth City Council. Any member wishing to site beehives on Allotments must submit their request, in writing to:- Ian Child, 19 Manor Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, PO1 5LB.
The Committee intends to negotiate with the Council to try and extend Beekeeping on Allotment sites .It is therefore vital that members adhere to the above procedure to ensure we maintain our good relationship with Council officials.
According to the Leisure Department of Fareham Borough Council, there are many more enquiries about locating beehives on allotments than actual installations – in fact there are none on any of their allotments. The reason for this is that there needs to be agreement between the beekeepers and the allotment holders before the Council will accept an out-apiary. In neighbouring Portsmouth District Council there have been bees on allotments for the last 10 years, and there are out-apiaries on at least three allotment sites in the city.
The National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardens agrees that agreement between the parties is the key, and emphasise that nobody has the right to keep bees on an allotment. They suggest a code of good practice that includes these points.
- The bees must be of docile strain, such as New Zealand bees, and the beekeeper needs to be meticulous about swarm prevention.
- The bees must be protected from the public, to help prevent vandalism.
- The beekeeper must have public liability insurance, such as that provided through membership of the BBKA.
- A barrier of at least 6 feet in height must be erected around the apiary to push the bees up and outwards. At a minimum this could be a small - mesh fence, but in Portsmouth they use laplarch fencing which hides the hive from prying eyes and has been very successful.
- The location of the site needs to be carefully considered, but there are two schools of thought. One is to have the apiary on the edge of an allotment where there is likely to be waste ground, but the concern is that the bees may develop a flight –path over one particular plot as they leave and enter the hive. The other view is that the bees should be in the centre of the allotment so that they have access through 360 . In Portsmouth the bees are kept on the edge of the site, but in either case the situation needs to be agreed with the allotment holders.
The Portsmouth and District Beekeepers Association members who manage out-apiaries on allotments all have a very good relationship with the local allotment holders, but it has not been easy to build the trust. The beekeepers often have teaching sessions and invite allotment holders to put on a bee suit to watch them working the hive, and this helps to reduce any fears they may have from having bees so close to their plots.
However, it is the benefit of having bees nearby that usually convinces the allotment holders, and many have commented on the increased yield of fruit and vegetables (particularly broad beans) once the hives have been accepted on to the allotment.
The benefit for the beekeeper has been regular bumper harvests of honey, and they report yields of more than 210 lbs from a national hive. Both parties can benefit from a combination of a responsible beekeeper with an informed allotment holder.