Primrose Hill: month eleven…
We've reached the penultimate month of our programme. We're nearly home, but as we turn the corner into our street we can hear the laughter of children from the treehouse in our neighbour's garden and the industrious buzzing of a bumble bee.
Bees are famously hard-working and are responsible for pollinating a third of our crops, so we naturally associate them with the countryside. But it turns out that urban bumblebees are doing much better than their country cousins: a joint research project by the Royal Holloway, University of London and Imperial College London found that bumblebees in the countryside have less reproductive success than city bees.
Changing rural landscapes and intensive farming practice - fewer wildflowers and the liberal use of pesticides in the recent past - have been challenging for bee populations. Meanwhile the abundance of flowers in urban parks and gardens, along with the warmer microclimate provided by the density of buildings, has made city gardens a haven, particularly for bumblebees.
the beekeeper attending to hives on the roof of Fortnum & Mason
In 2008 London's most venerable grocers, Fortnum & Mason, installed beehives on the roof of their Piccadilly shop, outfitted in their signature eau de nil livery. The five bee hives produce one crop of honey, known as the Piccadilly London Honey, which is gathered each autumn and the taste apparently hints at the bees' travels through London’s Royal parks and gardens. There's a waiting list if you'd like to buy some.
If you're feeling as industrious as a bee you can find my block patterns in issue 91 of Today’s Quilter. I can't quite believe that we have just one more month to go before we start assembling our quilts and as I've been keeping you guessing about the layout I'm so looking forward to sharing my finished quilt with you. Not long now...