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Hive creating a buzz at Newham Grange

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A photo of Neville Thomson and Ken Grant of the Cleveland Beekeepers Association

There's a hive of activity drawing in the crowds at one of Middlesbrough's best loved leisure venues.

The busy workers are proving a draw for families from far and wide at Newham Grange Farm.

The stars of the show are the bees hard at work in the Farm's historic observation hive which gives visitors an up-close insight into the lives of these fascinating creatures.

The unit has been installed in the recently opened Discovery Centre in partnership with the Cleveland Beekeepers Association (CBKA) which has had colonies of bees in an apiary at Newham Grange farm for a number of years.

Three of the Association's expert beekeepers are on site every Friday at 2pm to inspect the hive and chat to visitors.

The hive was previously situated in the Children's Room at the town's Dorman Museum from the 1960s before being donated to a CBKA member in the 1990s.

Restored and repaired, the hive was installed in the Discovery Centre, allowing the bees to exit the building through a hole in the wall.

The observation hive was designed and built by CBKA member Brian Hateley who maintained it and several others around Teesside, keeping honey bees as an attraction.

Ian Peacock, Chair of the CBKA, said: "We often use mobile observation hives at shows to engage people and encourage them to be more bee-aware.

"I'm always amazed by the number of local people whose recollections of the Dorman Museum include a reference to the observation hive.

"One of hive's current custodians actually got into beekeeping at as a result of a visit to that very hive as a child. 

"It's great that it's now found a new permanent home at Newham Grange and will continue to fascinate and delight new visitors and bring back happy memories for a great many people who will remember it down the years.

"It's an amazing opportunity for a new generation of visitors to get up close in safety to around 5,000 stinging insects.

"Brian Hateley produced a booklet on observation hives which is also available from our website for a small donation.

"It helps keep alive the memory of a wonderful beekeeper who did a great deal for his fellow beekeepers and helped to raise public awareness."

Middlesbrough Deputy Mayor Councillor Mieka Smiles said: "It's so important right now that we do all we can to support insects as they're under threat like never before.

"That's especially true for bees, so it's vital that we do all we can to give them the habitats they need in which to thrive.

"All of us can do our bit - and that's where amazing projects like the observation hive and organisations like the CBKA come into their own.

"It's a great day out for all the family, and one that can help to make a real difference."

For more information on opening times and activities at Newham Grange Farm, visit the Newham Grange Farm website. For information and advice on beekeeping, visit the Cleveland Beekeepers Association website.

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