Buzzy Bees

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Big activities with a small footprint.

Gallery Oldham’s bees 

We love buzzy bees at Gallery Oldham, in fact we even have our very own hive of bees on our bee landing! 

In high summer there are about 35,000 honey bees in our hive, dropping to around 5,000 over the winter. They are looked after by our volunteer beekeeper Jonathan. 

Honey only comes from honey bees and the earliest records of bee keeping in hives for honey production date back to the Egyptians around 2,400 BC.  

Image of Gallery Oldham's beekeeper with the bees

Life inside Gallery Oldham’s hive is very structured. The honey bees have to work together to ensure the survival of the colony. 

There are three different types of adult bee in a hive: just one queen, thousands of female workers and in the summer hundreds of male drones. The illustration below shows what the they look like.  

Image showing european or western honey bee (Apis mellifera) specifically the worker, queen and drone bee.

Did you know? 

  • The queen bee can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day!  
  • The worker bee is the City of Manchester’s official symbol. It was adopted as a symbol for Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, at a time when Manchester was taking a leading role in new forms of mass production, becoming the world’s first industrial city. Find out more about Manchester’s worker bee symbol.

 Bee search 

There are many other types of bees. Can you find all of the words in our bee-themed word search?  

Bee word search.

The need for bees! 

It’s tempting to think bees just provide us with honey – but in fact they are needed to pollinate much of the food we eat, including most fruit and vegetables. Bees are pollinators vital to our food chain. One third of the food we eat would not be available if not for bees.  

Illustration of a Bumble bee.

Bees are a sign of how healthy our environment is. Bees are needed to pollinate plants in gardens, parks and the countryside, including more than three-quarters of the UK’s wildflowers. Wild areas are great for bees and perfect for play, but they also help give us clean air and water. They’re important if we’re going to cope with a changing climate as natural spaces absorb excess water and heat and can offer cool shade. 


Bee creative 

Make your own fingerprint bees by adding wings, legs, markings and a face to the fingerprints below. 

Fingertip in blue ink.
Fingerprint in blue ink.
Fingerprint in blue ink.
Fingerprint in blue ink
Fingerprint in blue ink

Bee friendly 

Image of a sunflower growing in a garden or patio

Changes in agricultural practises, including both an increase of land use and the use of pesticides, has removed wildflowers from the landscape. This has had a big impact on our bees. The number of bees has sadly been declining! 

To make the natural world more bee friendly you could plant bee friendly flowers and plants that in your garden, patio pots or window boxes to provide essential nutrition for bees; 

Annual Coreopsis, Annual Scabious, Bee sage, Borage, Candytuft, Catmint, Chives, Clover, Comfrey, Dahlias, French Marigold, Larkspur, Nasturtium, Sage, Sea Holly, Sedum, Sweet William, Tobacco Plant  

And don’t forget your sunflower and our how-to-growing guide available on our Spring Thing webpage – buzzy bees love these too! 

Other tips to encourage and nurture buzzy bees in your garden: 

Allow a patch of grass to grow long and densely plant an area of border to provide bees with shelter from the rain or a sudden drop in temperature. 
Reduce the use of pesticide in your garden – pesticides can kill bees and cause whole hives to be abandoned! 
Bees need water – place pebbles in a shallow dish of water and you will be bombarded with bumble and honey bees in a few days. Keep it replenished and they will keep returning, bees have good memories! 

Gallery Oldham