New observational beehive to open at Cumberland House Natural History Museum after two years of fundraising

BUZZ ABOUT BEES Olivia and James Rowe enjoying the bee exhibition at Cumberland House Natural History Museum in Southsea.
BUZZ ABOUT BEES Olivia and James Rowe enjoying the bee exhibition at Cumberland House Natural History Museum in Southsea.
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A new observational beehive will officially be opened at Cumberland House Natural History Museum in Southsea this month.

The mayor of Portsmouth, Frank Jonas, will be at the opening on August 26 at 7pm.

The observational beehive.

The observational beehive.

The project was suggested by the 
previous chairman of the museum friends group, Kathleen Lewis, and the museum has continued to work tirelessly for two years, raising vital funds for the project.

The money that was raised, along with the support of local volunteers, has helped the museum to introduce more bee-attracting plants to its garden.

These include lavender, bluebells and crocuses, which are all maintained by a weekly gardening group from the local community.

The bees will be kept in a non-artificial environment with an outlet pipe leading into the garden, allowing visitors the opportunity to observe the bees’ activities throughout the year.

A bespoke hive has been made to house the British honey bees by Thornes, a company which has provided hives for both Buckingham and Lambeth palaces.

Elizabeth Higgins, a committee member of Cumberland House, said: ‘We found out that Oxford University Museum of Natural History had an observation beehive and that it was very successful.

‘We thought it looked exciting and 
there’s not many in the country for people to see.

‘It’s an excellent teaching aid, as you can see what’s happening inside the hive. It’s just marvellous.’

The aim of the project is to show how important bees are to the environment and how people can help protect them, as their numbers have been rapidly declining in recent years due to a problem called ‘colony collapse disorder’.

Bees play a vital role in food production, which gives them an estimated value 
of £430 million per year to the UK crop market.

Currently, the museum has an experienced beekeeper, Graham Cooke, who is a member of the Portsmouth Beekeeper Association. He is helping to develop skills in caring for the bees at the museum.