Stu, the Wolff Olins Building Manager, Beekeeper and Garden Keeper extraordinaire on the flora and fauna thriving on the Wolff Olins roof.
“Spring has sprung and the growing season is well under way. We have been growing seedlings in our grow house and then planting them out .
Last Friday we planted out beans that had been in the grow house as well as doing a fair bit of weeding and maintenance.
Our two potato crops are growing well and are due to flower soon. And as soon as they have died back we can harvest them !
Today was more weeding as well as planting carrot seeds.
The next two crops to be planted out from the grow house will be cherry tomato’s and beans.
The flowering plants we have on the roof , Poppy’s and Strawberry plants, have been attracting honey bees as well as bumble bees and the hairy footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes)
In order to provide food for honey bees and bumble bees we now let some plants go to seed.”
Stuart Robertson, Wolff Olins
Our first event of 2015 took us “Back to Basics”, with a couple of new members in the Honey Club community and a fresh new year we wanted to get back to our roots and understand what we do and why we do it.
We hosted the event in Wolff Olins event space next to the canal with Global Generation and Urban Bees. Each of us set up a stand for guests to visit as we explained a little more about the interconnectedness between the bees and us.
Stuart, our resident beekeeper hosted a honey tasting, taking us through 6 different honeys. We had the Honey Club honey from Wolff Olins’ roof and the Skip Garden as well as Regent’s Park Honey, Urban Bees, Tesco Finest Acacia and a Gales set honey. They were all delicious but it was fascinating tasting the differences between honey from hives which are so close. The Skip Garden and the Wolff Olins honey are metres apart yet only one tastes of lemon and lime and the Regent’s Park honey had a hint of mint!
Global Generation showed their film, Stories for a Better World which took us on a 14 billion year journey from the big bang to present day, all from the perspective of the bee. “The honey-bee is the starting point for children and young people on the project to explore cultural creation stories and the scientific origins of the Universe, as a fresh and different doorway into social and environmental responsibility.”
Urban Bees brought with them a virtual hive, which is a great tool to learn about the conditions generally found within a typical brood box at various times of the season. Brian from Urban Bees gave a fascinating introductory talk into the world of bees. Everyone particularly enjoyed the interactive bee waggle dance we had to do for eachother! Did you know that by performing the waggle dance they can share information about the direction and distance to the flowers bearing the best nectar and pollen?
“I found the experience interesting in the sense that the different branches connected by the honey bees (people, nature and business) highlighted the diversity of a day in the life of a bee, and the making of honey. It was great to interact with various people of different perspectives, and look at everything from the way we communicate with each other verbally to the foods we eat and how and with what.” Ranya, 14.
Olivia Saponaro, Wolff Olins
Following the honey harvest in January, with the days getting brighter and just that tiny bit longer, the excitement of spring almost upon us, we decided it would be a great time to hold our Pop Up Shop at Wolff Olins.
We had honey to sell from both the Wolff Olins roof garden and the Skip Garden, as well as some Honey Club tote bags, seed packs and the art cards from the Beetopia event we had at The Guardian in the summer.
The honey was so popular it sold out in around 5 minutes! Some people were buying gifts for family and friends, what a lovely idea for Mother’s Day; buy a tote bag, a jar of honey and a seed pack then top it up with a bottle of prosecco!! Mmmm honey and prosecco…
Honey Lavender Prosecco Recipe
For the Honey Lavender Syrup:
1 cup Honey Club Honey
½ cup water
4 lavender flowers
Bring honey, water and lavender to a boil in a small saucepan.
Let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
Strain lavender out and transfer syrup to a glass bottle with a lid.
Add 1 tablespoon of lavender honey to a champagne flute.
Fill the glass with prosecco.
Olivia Saponaro, Wolff Olins
Photography by Wunmi Onibudo
What goes on in the life of a bee? I recently had the pleasure of reading through some extracts from the Young Genorators at Global Generation’s Big Bang Summer School, who’s aim was to talk about exactly that. Here are a few of my favourites!
I am a bee, I wake up in one bright sunny day when the sun shimmers on my bright black and orangey-brown striped coat and lightens up my transparent wings like glass. I am amazing as I am determined to find patch of flowers so my mates and I can get some sweet nectar and pollen to bring back to our hive. I am wonderful as I have strength to travel far and wide to find flowers. – Azizah aged 11
Bees are intelligent because they vibrate the hive to be able to talk with other bees. Bees are hairy so they can be able to attracted to pollen. Bees concentrate and focus on making the hive and they have strength to be like this. Bees are clever because they communicate with flowers just by using their smelly and tiny feet. Bees are heart breaking because they sacrifice their life if you dare just to perfect their honey. - Maryam, age 10
I wake early every morning to get to work. I sore through the sky like I have no responsibilities. I brush myself off with the wind, a morning shower then I get settled and begin my daily life as a honey bee. However, every morning when I wake up I realize my life is on the line. I am willing to make that sacrifice at any given moment. - Abdirahmah, age 11
I’m a bee, another miraculous creature making life easy for humans. I’m unique and intelligent, as no one can produce the delicious honey like me. I buzz as I stand on guard protecting my queen and my hive. If you dare to come close be sure to be stung. Finders keepers is not the game I learn to play but if you ask nicely, I might share. - Aliya, age 11
Emily Cooper, Wolff Olins
With Christmas now far behind us and everyone back into the usual work routine, the Honey Club thought now would be a good time to add a little sunshine to the January gloom and get stuck in with our honey harvest.
We kicked it off on Thursday by inviting the lovely people at Wolff Olins to come along and help prepare the honey comb.
Before we can extract any honey, the thin protective layer of wax has to be removed, using the comb pictured. The wax can be used for a number of products, including candles, lip balm and shampoo. This can be quite time consuming, but everyone got stuck right in and had a go!
Once the wax has been removed, the honey combs are then placed in this centrifuge (like an old fashioned washing machine!). This needs to be spun by hand until the honey works its way out of the comb.
The next step is to filter the honey, to remove all traces of wax. We filter twice through two different sizes of sieve, which leaves us with the pure, golden honey we love. This takes a really, really long time!
On Friday we were joined by some Young Generators from Global Generation. First off Stuart, our Building Manager and resident bee keeper, gave them a tour of the roof garden and showed them our bee hives. The Generators are keen to find out all things business related as well as honey related.
Neridah giving a talk on all things Honey Club.
Now for the fun part! It was time to pour our yummy honey into jars.
Everyone got to taste the fantastic honey – which this year has a very elderflower taste.
We had some great feedback from the Young Generators after the event. Here are a few of their comments:
How do bees make honey so tasty? It was really interesting to learn about the honey club. I also learnt a lot of new things, like how the honey tasted of elderflowers with citrus hints. This was because of the bees getting the things they needed from these particular flowers. I mostly enjoyed eating the honey and I am glad I got to lick the big spoon at the end. Let’s make lip balm, sounds fun! – Ela
My experience today has made me curious about who first decided (as in humans) to harvest the honey and eat it. Who came up with all the methods to get different types of honey and how to take it from the bee’s in the first place? How did they know it was safe to eat and how did they get the bees to come back to the hives to produce more honey? Humans must had observed this for such a long time. – Marta
My experience today has made me curious about a bee’s life. Not only the finished, or diluted substance we know as honey, is quite simply sticky. The honey process is a long one and I understand now why it is called the golden liquid! It makes me wonder about how under appreciated bees are. Although I enjoyed the entire day and activities, I liked the tasting of the elderflowers honey the bee had produced and learning the different states the honey goes through. Honey really captures all 5 senses. – Ranya
Emily Cooper, Wolff Olins
Photography by Wunmi Onibudo