Calling all nature-loving volunteers

Calling all nature-loving volunteers

ActivGardens are calling on those who love getting close to nature in the great outdoors to join us on a Monday afternoon for environmental conservation volunteering in our Wild Zone.

From April, when the bees start buzzing, you will also be able to get involved in bee-keeping sessions at our community apiary.

We need help with maintaining and developing our wildflower meadow, dead-hedging, wildlife habitat, and other areas.

You can enjoy spotting wildlife and birds from our bird hide and, on special occasions, enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation around the campfire.

  • Sessions will run Mondays 1.30 to 3.30pm (a little earlier in winter when the light is fading).

This opportunity if funded by the Postcode Local Trust – a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It is part of our ‘Bee Amazed’ project which provides opportunities for people living in urban areas to get involved in beekeeping, learning about the environment, and taking part in conservation volunteering in their local area.


If you are interested in getting involved, please contact our Project Officer Bev Baker at ActivLives 01473 345350 or email

Vote for ‘Bee Amazed by the Wonderful World of Bees’ at Tesco!

Vote for ‘Bee Amazed by the Wonderful World of Bees’ at Tesco!

ActivLives is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative for its project to introduce people to the wonderful world of bees. Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores awarded to local community projects.

Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote in May and June for who they think should take away the top grant. ActivLives is one of the groups on the shortlist. Bee Amazed is a project to enable people of all ages and abilities to get involved in the wonderful world of bees and bee-keeping, learning about their importance to us and our natural world

This project, which will run at the People’s Community Garden on Maidenhall Allotments, will provide opportunities for local families, older people, children, people with disabilities and people of diverse ethnicities to get involved in bee-keeping and learn about their importance in the food chain and the natural environment.
Led by staff and bee-keeping mentors from the local bee-keeping association, the project will offer weekly sessions for people to come and learn hands-on about this fascinating craft at our own apiary, and develop confidence and knowledge to become a regular community bee-keeping volunteer.
The project will provide bespoke sessions for people with learning disabilities and special needs to take part, and invite local schoolchildren on ‘Bee Safari’.

ActivGardens Development Manager Susannah Robirosa said: “We are so happy to be in the running for a project which will offer opportunities to everyone, of all ages, to get involved in beekeeping and nature conservation at our wonderful community garden project in Ipswich.” “Please support us – then book your visit or come and volunteer!”

Voting is open in local Tesco stores from Tuesday 1st May to Saturday 30th June 2018.
Customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop. These are participating stores:

  • Tesco Ipswich Extra (Copdock Mill Interchange)
  • Ipswich Westbourne Express
  • Ipswich Norwich Express
  • Ipswich Foxhall Express
  • Ipswich St Matthew’s Street Express
  • Ipswich Nacton Road Express
  • Manningtree Colchester Express

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £43 million to more than 10,000 projects up and down the UK. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding. Alec Brown, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for May and June. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see these come to life in hundreds of communities.” Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between. “We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.” Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online.

To find out more visit


Danny’s buzzing to tell you about our bees! 🐝

Danny’s buzzing to tell you about our bees! 🐝

When I joined the ActivGardens Team in April little did I know that I would become a beekeeper as part of my role. What an amazing past six months it has been. To say that I have been totally inspired is an understatement. The fascination and feeling of responsibility towards our colonies is phenomenal and they have become a real part of my world.

I feel very privileged to be working alongside our bees and even more so that I am able to share our wonderful apiary with people from all walks of life from our local community and witness the benefits that it brings.


A huge thank you must go to my wonderful mentor Betsy Reid (I&ES BKA) whose passion for bees just shone through. Betsy’s calm nature, knowledge and delivery style has given me the confidence to really enjoy our bees and hopefully put them in good stead for the coming winter.

So the past six months, where do I start… A steep learning curve comes to mind. I vividly remember being extremely excited to be going to visit our bees for the first time back in April, donning the bee suit, armed with the


smoker, and feeling the bees knees (excuse the pun). I don’t quite know what I was expecting; however, once the lid was lifted and the bees took flight around us, I couldn’t believe the hum and the constant thoughts of whether the bees were flying past my visor, or were they inside. At the end of that session, I remember thinking, how on earth do you remember everything -the things you have to look out for, the things you have to do and record, planning for the next visit and how brave to be holding the frames.

As the weeks went by, it gradually became routine, although still as invigorating; I began to understand bee terminology/jargon and identify what it was I was looking for, it began to make sense, my confidence and knowledge grew, and my mentor never faulted.


It certainly wasn’t plain sailing as we had verroa, wax moth and a multiple swarming hive identified in my first visit followed by laying workers/drone-laying queen, which unfortunately had to come to a sorry end. I also remember the multiple stings I received whilst delivering a session at our Big Garden Party.

Highlights? There are lots: holding a frame covered in bees for the first time, spotting the elusive queen bee, harvesting and sampling the glorious honey, observing people’s reactions whilst offloading wonderful facts about our honey bees, seeing first-hand how our bees have built confidence in so many of our visitors and being successful in placing a queen cell into a nuclei, taking it home to my garden for 6 weeks and forming a new colony.

We have had schools, both primary and secondary, colleges, pupil referral units, prisoners, community groups, corporate groups, individuals from the community, as well as our regular volunteers, visit our apiary, amounting to in excess of 400 visits. Hopefully our apiary will go from strength to strength, and we have some great ideas to further develop our apiary as a ‘CommuniBee’ educational and wellbeing resource.

Other visitors have included David Barnes (DEFRA, National Bee Unit) in June , who reassured us that our bees were in good health and our housekeeping was in order; David also commented on our wonderful setting. Joyce Boorman (Director of Phoenix2 Network CIC) also recently visited us and I am very pleased to say that we now have a copy of the 2 BeePlus Resource CD 2017  that Joyce and her team developed, which we look forward to sharing with our next generation of young beekeepers.

Thanks must go to Betsy Reid and Chris Stevens for their very kind donations of two queen ready colonies to replenish our apiary, which I must say have settled in very well. Also thank you to I&ES BKA for their kind donation of sugar for our bees.

I am quite disappointed that our four hives need to settle down for the winter and that it won’t be quite so hands on (purely very selfish of me as our bees really deserve a rest). However, there is plenty to do behind the scenes, including creating a new shallow pond within the apiary, and work is already under way in creating a wonderful wild flower meadow bordered by a hedge adjacent to our apiary. We also hope to source/develop and share valuable resources for our visitors to engage and enjoy in the New Year, and I can’t wait to attend some local courses to increase my knowledge and hopefully squeeze in a visit to Buzzworks, Hitchin’s Bee Discovery Centre in Hertfordshire.

The future of our apiary is looking very promising and we are now planning our introductory course in Bee-Keeping, led by Betsy Reid, beginning in January. We are also very excited to have just launched our “ActivGardens CommuniBee Hive Sponsorship” aimed at involving local businesses and organisations.

I hope this has given you a brief overview of what our bees are doing for our community and that it is a hive of activity. If you would like further information or believe you could help us in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Danny Thorrington
ActivGardens Coordinator

Give me a BUZZ:
07532 794173

Charity buzzing over funding to bring joys of beekeeping to people of all ages and abilities

Charity buzzing over funding to bring joys of beekeeping to people of all ages and abilities

ActivLives is celebrating after receiving £20,000 to fund a project, Bee Amazed, to enable people of all abilities to get involved in helping bees thrive, as well as taking an active part in conserving the local environment, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.


The project launches in the New Year with a beekeeping course and a fact-finding visit to a Bee Discovery Centre.


The funding boost from Postcode Local Trust will enable ActivLives People’s Community Garden to provide opportunities for a diverse range of groups,

including local families, young people, older people, and people with disabilities, to develop skills and build confidence to volunteer.


From April, there will be weekly hands-on learning sessions every Monday afternoon 1.30-3.30pm at our community apiary, where there will be a chance to learn by assisting our experienced team in handling the bees and carrying out essential tasks.


Organisations who support people with needs will have the chance to book a bespoke visit, while schools are encouraged to bring classes to learn hands-on.


As part of the project, we are encouraging new volunteers to help us develop an Outdoor Classroom and wildflower meadow, as well as a ‘Bee Amazed’ learning hive for humans, with information on the life-cycle of bees.


ActivGardens Development Manager Susannah Robirosa said: “We would like to thank players of the People’s Postcode Lottery for helping us to help bees – vital for a healthy environment and the maintenance of our own food chain – as well as provide opportunities for local people to get involved. Please come and visit us and join in!”


Postcode Local Trust exists to fund community groups and charitable organisations through a variety of grant giving programmes. To do so, the Trust relies solely on funding from the proceeds of tickets sales from People’s Postcode Lottery. When you sign up to play People’s Postcode Lottery, your postcode is your ticket. It costs £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. A minimum of 27.5% goes directly to charities across Great Britain and internationally.


  • To book your place on the Bee-keeping course: Mondays 22 & 29 Jan; 5, 19  & 26 Feb 2018 at 1.30-3.30pm; or to join us on our educational visit to BuzzWorks Bee Discovery Centre, Hitchin, Hertfordshire on Thursday 22 February, please call ActivLives on 01473 345 350, or contact Project Co-ordinator Danny Thorrington on 07532 794173 or



Details of course

Beekeeping: Inspiring the next generation! – an introductory course led by Betsy Reid of Ipswich and East Suffolk Beekeepers’ Association

Mondays 22 & 29 Jan; 5, 19  & 26 Feb 2018 1.30-3.30pm
at the People’s Community Garden and CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE


The course will cover:

  • The relevance and importance of bee-keeping
  • How a bee colony lives and works
  • Different kinds of hive and how they work
  • The beekeeping year
  • Queens and drones
  • Swarming
  • Pests and diseases
  • Honey and hive products
  • Plants and forage


Call ActivLives on 01473 345350 to book your place.

Suggested donation: £5 per session; free to regular volunteers and unwaged