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// Your FirstPort Team

Meet our part-time beekeeper Nathalie

It’s World Bee Day today (20th May) so we’ve caught up with Nathalie Vignolle, Assistant Development Manager at FirstPort managed Repton Park, who also works at the weekends as a beekeeper at Oakland’s College in St Albans.

Nathalie says: “Having always had an interest in wildlife, I developed a particular interest in honeybees, which led me to take a monthly evening course and spend time as an observer at Oakland’s College in St Albans.

“But my beekeeping dreams finally came true a few years ago when I caught my own ‘swarm’ and started my own hive – and I’ve never looked back!

Honeybees are facing more than ever some serious challenges such as climate changes, diseases, predators, insecticides – and humans.

“Humans are becoming more aware of the vital importance of bees to our environment, and despite there being a fairly large number of beekeepers in the UK, they’re still at risk of extinction because the global bee population is still rapidly decreasing,” explains Nathalie.

“People are always really fascinated to see the bees in an observation hive and children love trying to find the queen bee,” she continues. “Every colony is unique and it’s what makes beekeeping so challenging, fascinating, and rewarding. I hope my experience with honeybees will inspire others to look after them too, so that they can continue to pollinate our world for another 150 million years.”

“Although just a hobby that I enjoy for my own pleasure right now, if there was sufficient interest in FirstPort developments, I would love us to have more beehives and give residents more insights into the wonderful world of the honeybee!”

Did you know?

  • Honeybees have three castes or ‘groups’ – drones, workers and queens. The drones are male, while the workers and queens are female
  • Honeybees have evolved over 150 million years and are the only insect that produces food that is eaten by humans
  • They can fly for up to six miles and as fast as 15 miles an hour
  • Beekeeping usually starts early March until late September
  • The average worker bee produces only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in their lifetime and can visit between 50 and 200 flowers during a single collection trip alone
  • One bee must fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make 1Ib of honey
  • A bee’s brain is oval and the size of a sesame seed. However, it has the remarkable capacity to learn and remember things and makes complex calculations relating to things such as the distance it’s travelled and foraging efficiency
  • A colony of bees consists of 10,000 in the winter and up to 60,000 in the summer
  • Once mated, queens can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day