The Pierhead Bees coped with their first winter well – they thinned down their numbers and huddled together for warmth in the hive, keeping it a toasty 30+ degrees in the middle to protect their queen.
We left all the honey in the hives last year as they hadn’t been with us for the full season, and even supplemented their diet with some fondant which they munched through in the spring without having to leave the hives.
Spring into Summer
The different personalities of the hives have continued to be evident throughout their first year. Hive two has still been much more boisterous with the keepers inspecting them, but they have also been busier. They started making plenty of food and increasing their numbers again early in the spring, while hive one was still taking it slow after the winter.
So much so in fact that we even had to borrow some frames of food from hive two and give it to the bees in hive one; rewarding their lethargy, we know!
As the abundance of flowering plants has grown into the summer, especially on the undeveloped areas of land around the Bay where the bees can forage, hive one caught up and both were displaying ample food stocks.
This trend continued and recently we actually had to add a super (extra layer) to hive one to store all their food, and another one for brood– all the extra baby bees they’ve been making.
Hive two in the meantime changed dramatically- relaxing their behaviour for a while whilst we noticed they had stopped making eggs. Although it can be difficult to spot the queen during an inspection visit, a behaviour change and lack of eggs are sure-fire signs the queen is no longer present. The following week we then noticed two queen or supercedure cells; the hive trying to make a new queen. We had to leave both of these to hatch, and in the ruthless efficiency of nature the two queens would battle it out with only the strongest surviving.
We had to allow this process to take its course; servicing only hive one whilst the queen from hive two left to mate with a male from another hive, and return home before settling down to take up her new role as matriarch and egg-layer.
A precarious time during which she could become lost or even eaten by a bird, we were obviously on tenterhooks awaiting her safe return. Our keepers had to be patient while we avoided any disturbance of the hive during this critical time. That patience paid off though and we are pleased to report that at the start of August we found new eggs in hive two. Baby bees are being made and the hive has a new leader to work for.
We are pleased to announce we are now a signatory of the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter.
We know, from the Race Disparity Audit’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures website and the Business in the Community Race at Work Survey, that ethnic minorities still face significant disparities in employment and progression, and that is something that needs to change. The McGregor-Smith review has highlighted the fact that greater progress and positive outcomes are now needed to ensure all organisations benefit from the wealth of diverse talent on offer.
The Charter helps businesses improve racial equality in the workplace and is composed of five principle calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors. The five principle call to action are:
• Appointing an executive sponsor for race.
• Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress.
• Commit at Board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying.
• Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers.
• Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.
October is Black History Month and seems a great time to launch the fact that we have signed up to the Charter. Signing up means we are committing to taking practical steps to improving ethnic equality in the workplace and tackling barriers that ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression and ensuring that our organisation is representative of British society today.
Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the National Assembly for Wales, said:
“Signing the Charter will complement our ongoing diversity work to ensure that, as a parliamentary organisation that is for all the people of Wales, we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential and that we break down the barriers that currently block opportunities for certain groups of people irrespective of their race and ethnicity. I am very excited to see our progress as we embark upon the Charter, in addition to other benchmarking and recognition activities.”
Joyce Watson AM, Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for diversity and inclusion, said:
“I am really pleased to see that the Assembly Commission is a signatory to this charter. Wales is a diverse nation as this should be reflected in its workforce. As Commissioner for Equality and People I will both promote and monitor progress.”
Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, said:
“It is important that the Assembly continues to lead the way in promoting an inclusive culture throughout our organisation.
“We want to build on our record as a modern, accessible parliament with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact.
“I see us signing this Charter as a valuable part of ensuring that.”
To celebrate 20 years of devolution, the National Assembly for Wales is hosting the GWLAD festival – five days of events in Cardiff Bay, followed by three mini-festivals during the Autumn of 2019. We have worked in partnership with a number of organisations to create events which offer something for everyone: art, music, comedy and sport, as well as thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions on a range of topics including journalism, politics and culture.
2. When is it?
25-29 September 2019 We also have two regional festivals planned for Autumn 2019 – follow our social media channels for details.
3.Where is it?
Events this week will be held in either the Senedd or Pierhead buildings in Cardiff Bay. If you’re not in south Wales don’t worry, we have three mini festivals planned for later in the year across the country. Keep an eye on our social media channels for details.
Join Public Affairs Cymru on 29 September as they look at the rise of fake news and its impact on political reporting. Panellists include Guto Harri – former Director of Communications for Boris Johnson, Ruth Mosalski of Wales Online and James Williams, BBC Political Correspondent.
How will Brexit affect Wales? Assembly Members from across the political spectrum – Jeremy Miles (Welsh Labour), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and Nick Ramsey (Welsh Conservatives) will be discussing Brexit, poverty and automation in Wales.
Cardiff University’s Dr Justin Lewis will be asking do we need journalists?during his session on reporting and communicating news in the digital age.
8.What else is on?
Art and culture
During September the Senedd is hosting Many Voices, One Nationexhibition, featuring work by Ed Brydon, Luce + Harry, Zillah Bowes, John Poutney, James Hudson and Huw Alden Davies. Come along on 28 September for an exclusive “in conversation” event with some of the artists as they talk about their influences and inspiration.
Aberystwyth University will be looking at the promotion of minority languages and what Wales could learn from the experiences of other nations such as Catalonia, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.
ITV Wales’ Adrian Masters chairs a discussion looking back at 20 years of devolution in Wales on Wednesday 25 September. The BBC’s Welsh Affairs Editor and Radio Wales presenter Vaughan Roderick will also be looking at the impact of devolution in Wales during his session as guest speaker, as we host the BBC Cymru Wales annual Patrick Hannan lecture on 27 September. The Wales Governance Centre will be looking to the future during their session: Devolution: what does Wales think?
The Assembly has always boasted strong female representation, and in 2003 became the first in the world to achieve 50/50 gender balance. Join Chwarae Teg for an inspiring discussion on creating a Senedd equal for all women.
Ahead of Black History Month Wales, join Race Council Cymru for a look at challenges for equality in the Welsh economy. The expert panel includes Chantal Patel, Head of Inter-professional Studies at Swansea University, Sahar Al Faifi of MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), Professor Parvaiz Ali, former head of Nuclear Medicine at Singleton Hospital, and Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna of Cardiff Business School.
The Institute of Welsh Affairs will be looking at the foundational economy– what is it and what difference can it make to Welsh communities?
9.How much are tickets?
All tickets to GWLAD events are free. They cannot be reissued or sold.
10. What if I don’t have a ticket?
We have a very limited number of extra tickets for popular events which will be made available this week. A number of events will also be streamed live on Senedd TV and on the National Assembly for Wales’ social media channels. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook channels for further details of both tickets and broadcasts.
The Assembly’s Pierhead building has been the home of two rooftop beehives since July 2018, regularly monitored and cared for by a small team of staff volunteers.
Despite having a rooftop location the hives are in a safe, sheltered spot which gives them protection from the worst of Cardiff Bay’s weather. Under the watchful eyes of our volunteers they settled in through autumn and survived their first winter.
Now it’s summer again, the bees are working hard and have started producing honey.
Here, some of our volunteers talk about their experiences:
It’s the height of summer and the Pierhead Bees are busier than ever foraging the surrounding areas of the Pierhead to build up stores of their glorious golden honey.
Whilst one of the hives had a relatively slow start this summer, the bees have more than made up for it and have now built up frame after frame of honey which will be harvested in the Autumn. It never ceases to amaze me just how hard working the bees are… To make just 1KG of honey, our Pierhead bees will have flown 145, 000km and could have visited up to 2000 flowers per day! As you can see from the photos below, they have been very busy indeed.
So how do the bees make honey? Our bees have been busy foraging the local area for nectar found in plants and wildflowers. The nectar is collected, then once inside the beehive, the worker bees repeatedly consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar into the cells. When it is the right consistency, the honey is then sealed which is what you can see in the photos below.
This will be the first season where we will be able to harvest honey, and as a new beekeeper I am excited to see the process. Honey has been harvested for thousands of years for its various benefits. Not only does it taste delicious and never goes off, but it has many medicinal properties too. It is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can even be used to help relieve hay fever symptoms. Hopefully the bees will be kind enough to share some of their honey with us later in the year!
Did you know? Honey stores have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and when excavated were still edible 3000 years later! Proving the theory that honey never goes off!
As a nature lover, I feel very lucky to be part of such an exciting project at the Assembly.
Who knew that there was so much to learn about bees?! I’ve been working on the project for just over a year now and I still find myself constantly learning about their ways and tricks. I’m nearly always surprised each time I lift the lid off a hive and peer in – particularly at the astonishing speed with which the hives change and develop.
The busy nature of the bees means that it is essential that we carry out weekly inspections during the summer months, while the flowers are blooming and pollination activity is in full swing. We work as a pair during the inspections, thoroughly scanning each frame as we work our way through the hive. While we scan we look for honey (their food supply); pollen; capped brood cells; larva; eggs; and the usually inconspicuous queen.
During an inspection you may find some of the bees raising their behinds in the air and frantically fanning their wings. If you are brave enough to put your face close to them then you will smell a lovely fresh scent of lemon being wafted up your nostrils. This scent that they release helps the foraging bees find their way home.
As you scan through the hives you will also find that the capped cells come in different sizes. The large raised ones will contain a drone bee (male) and the flatter cells contain a smaller female bee.
Did you know that the queen bee can choose the sex of its offspring? When a virgin queen first leaves the hive she will have multiple matings with drone bees during her flight. She then stores the sperm using it bit by bit as she lays her eggs. Her stores will usually last around three years. If she fertilizes an egg with sperm then a female bee will emerge, and a drone will emerge from an unfertilized egg. This ‘choice’ is determined by the size of the brood cells made by the worker bees. And these are only a few of the many fascinating facts about the wondrous bees!
I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the bee keeping here at the Assembly and my experience so far has not disappointed.
The bee keeping is fascinating and I find the time spent up on top of the Pierhead so relaxing. Caring for the bees and watching the hives grow and change has been an education, and I am in awe of the colonies and the way in which nature works.
I have learnt so much, not just about the bees, but also it has further peaked my interest in environmental issues and from this I have made some big changes to my consumer habits, diet and garden! Not only have I learnt a new skill, I have also met some amazing new people from all walks of Assembly life, many of whom I wouldn’t have had a chance to speak with beyond a quick ‘hello’ in the corridor.
Thanks for the opportunity to be part of such an innovative project – I love it!
I am always surprised to see the letters ‘Dr.’ in front of my name. But I am a doctor. Not the type you’d want on a plane when the stewards shout ‘is there a doctor on-board?!’ for I am (what my friends have coined) a ‘Dr of Bees’. My PhD was based on studying wild pollinators which involved identifying bee species and the flowers they feed on.
So, I was so excited to discover that the Assembly had started keeping bees. I am now a member of the Bee team (by no means secondary) and it is such a privilege. Although I had studied wild pollinator communities, I didn’t have any experience of keeping honey bees. I have learned so much from Nature’s Little Helpers and my fellow Bee team colleagues, thank you for the opportunity.
They are amazing animals. They truly work as a ‘hive mind’, each having specialised roles depending on their age, which they perform so diligently. The youngest bees are the cleaners. They progress through the roles of feeding their larval brothers and sisters, building the combs, guarding the hive and finally flying away to collect pollen and nectar.
Together they create the most meticulous and astonishing collective. And of course there is the Queen. But she doesn’t reign as you might imagine, for it is the worker bees that call the shots. Through cues, they control the queen’s activity – they even decide whether she lays a male or female grub!
Due to their rooftop location and not wanting to disturb the bees, the hives are not open to the public, although if you look carefully you might spot one of them gathering pollen around Cardiff Bay.
Suicide is a very
difficult topic and one that, too often, crosses the mind of many young
people, including school children. That is why today – on World Suicide
Prevention Day – I am glad to welcome the publication of Welsh Government’s
first ever suicide and self-harm guidance to support teachers.
Suicide and young people
Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people. The latest figures, released last week, from the Office of National Statistics show a marked increase in young people dying by suicide and a worrying increase in the number of the number of girls dying by suicide.
preventable, which is why I am committed to raising awareness of suicide
prevention. I really believe that, as a country, we must do all we can to
intervene and stop preventable deaths.
Supporting young people, teachers and schools
The tragic fact is
that in 2017, some 226 school children across the UK lost their lives to
suicide. Schools are clearly very much in need of guidance to support teachers
and other professionals who regularly come into contact with children and young
Indeed, in my role as chair of the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, I called for such guidance on talking about suicide and self-harm to be issued to schools in our landmark report Mind Over Matter. I am pleased Welsh Government listened to us and is this week launching guidance to support school staff in responding to young people who are suicidal or self-harming.
The challenge, now,
will be implementation and going even further. The guidance is strong on how
schools should respond to young people who are obviously struggling but it is
desperately important we provide a bridge to help schools reach the young
people that no one realises are struggling, the ones who we don’t know about
until it is too late.
We urgently need to
be in a position where we are not simply responding to young people in obvious
distress but are ensuring sensitive discussions about suicide take place
appropriately in all schools.
I have long believed
that mental health is everyone’s business in a school, so at the same time as
welcoming the new guidance I will continue to keep Welsh Government’s feet to
the fire to ensure a sensitive approach to suicide prevention becomes an
accepted part of the school timetable.
Schools and the education system have a key role in building emotional resilience. The Mind Over Matter report, published in April 2018, provided a road map for a step-change in support for children’s emotional and mental health.
At the heart of our
recommendations were calls for greater emphasis on resilience-building, and
early intervention – to embed good mental health and coping strategies that
will stay with youngsters for the rest of their lives.
Improving the future for children, young people and adults
I firmly believe that
if we get this right for our children and young people, so many other things
will fall into place. They will learn better, they will attain more, they will
get better jobs but they will also be more resilient adults. I think there is a
direct link between getting this right and stemming the increase in mental
health problems and in the number of adult suicides too.
We are not suggesting
that teachers should become mental health experts. But we would like to see
everyone who cares, volunteers or works with children and young people trained
in emotional and mental health awareness to help tackle issues of stigma,
promote good mental health and enable signposting to support services where
We were told during the inquiry that a lot of teachers are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I have spoken to teachers who have told me they are afraid to go home at night because they are the last line of defence for a young person who is self-harming and they don’t know what to do.
That is why we are
pushing for the inclusion of basic mental health training – including how to
talk about suicide – to be part of initial teacher training and continuous
professional development. We really need to enable people who work with
children and young people to feel comfortable having difficult conversations.
The importance of
enabling people to talk about suicide is key. As a member of the joint
ministerial group set up in response to Mind Over Matter to accelerate work on
a whole-school approach to children’s mental health, I often find myself saying
that if we focus on compassion on building compassionate relationships
with young people then it will follow that mental health becomes everyone’s business
in a school.
I welcome this new
guidance as a step forward in building that compassionate and kind approach, I
hope it will encourage everyone to see that we all have a role to play in
Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not head to Cardiff Bay to visit the Senedd?
From politics to architecture, from art to artisan Welsh products, the Senedd has something for everyone.
1. The award-winning architecture and design
The Senedd is truly one of a kind. It’s huge funnel and canopy made of sustainable Canadian cedar wood are best viewed from inside the building, where you can explore on two levels.
2. Explore the Senedd trail
Looking for some fun, free children’s activities to enjoy this weekend? Little explorers can time-travel through the centuries on our children’s trails. Search the Senedd and collect the clues – and find out lots of interesting facts along the way. Hand your completed card back to Reception and enter the draw to win a prize!
3. See what happens behind the scenes
Over the summer our guided tours include exclusive access to areas not usually open to the public. Our friendly, expert guides will take you on a journey through the history of the Bay through to the architecture of the Senedd and Wales today. Best of all, tours are free and run daily at 11.00 / 14.00 / 15.00
4. Enjoy a taste of Wales in our café and shop
A day of exploring the Bay calls for a paned (Welsh for ‘cuppa’) and cake in our café. Choose from a range of refreshments and enjoy beautiful views of the Bay through the Senedd’s huge windows. Next to the café is the shop, which stocks Welsh produce, books and gifts.
5. Take in some art
The Senedd will be hosting some great new exhibitions throughout the Summer.
You could create your own postcard from Wales inspired by Steve Knapik MBE’s huge installation and post it in our post box. Discover some of the history of Cardiff Bay through Jack K Neale’s old black and white images of ships sailing out of Bute Docks, carrying South Wales coal back to France. Or think about what you’d add to Drawn Together, a national project which invited people to take five minutes to draw something they could see. In total over 4,500 people participated, with drawings received from every county in Wales.
6. The friendliest security in Cardiff
As with any parliamentary building, all visitors are required to go through airport-style security on their way into the Senedd. However, our Security team strive to make a good first impression. Here is a very small selection of the many comments we’ve received about them on Trip Advisor:
“Had to pass through security, but they were the politest I’ve encountered (Heathrow take note)” Celticfire
“Friendliest government building I have ever visited! Beautiful and interesting building manned by the friendliest staff I’ve ever come across. Even the security guards were a delight ensuring an easy, safe transit into the building.” Gillyflower58
“Airport style security performed by some very happy and friendly staff.” 138Paul138
Did we mention we also have a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence?
7. Enjoy the Senedd’s environmental design
Baking hot in Cardiff Bay? The Senedd’s unique design keeps it lovely and cool on summer days. It’s windows actually open and close automatically to help regulate the temperature inside.
8. Help us celebrate 20 years
This year we are celebrating 20 years of the National Assembly for Wales. Share your aspirations for Wales over the next 20 years on our board.
9. We’ve got Lego®, Duplo® and activities for little ones
If you’re feeling inspired after seeing the Bright Bricks dragon, princess and wizard in Mermaid Quay, come along and add your own Lego® creation to our map of Wales. Throughout the holidays we also have colouring and craft available to keep little ones entertained while you enjoy a well-earned sit down.
And how much does it cost to access all this, I hear you ask? Nothing. The Senedd is a public building – your building – and we are open 7 days a week. Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for the weekend or you’re a local who’s never ventured inside, head down to the Senedd this summer as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.
On the weekend of 19 – 21 July, 58 of the 60 people selected as being representative of the Welsh population gathered at Gregynog Hall in mid Wales to take part in our first citizens’ assembly. The Assembly Commission decided to hold this citizens’ assembly as part of its 20th Anniversary celebrations.
This citizens’ assembly had two questions to
people in Wales shape their future?
devolved areas are working particularly well and which are challenging Wales?
citizens’ assembly’s participants
Sixty participants, drawn from applicants from
10,000 randomly selected households, were chosen to take part. They were
demographically representative of the Welsh population. Roughly 75% had no
university degree, 25% had no GCSEs or equivalents, and 60% did not vote in the
2016 National Assembly for Wales (the Assembly) election. Distinguishing this
political gathering from any other recallable in the last twenty years in Wales.
The 60 chosen to take part in this event were
representative of Wales’ population aged 16 and over in terms of:
60+ – 30.2%
qualifications – 25.9% (15-16)
Level 1 or 2
– 29% (17-18)
Level 3 or
Apprenticeship or Other – 20.5% (12-13)
Level 4 or
above – 24.5% (14-15)
from each of the 5 electoral regions.
BAME – 4.4%
(10 – a decision was made to over-represent this category)
Vote in 2016 election
Yes – 40.7%
ineligible – 59.3% (35-36)
Welsh language skills (speak, read, write,
understand or some combination thereof):
Yes – 26.7%
No – 73.3%
Male – 51%
Female – 49
Other – 0%
(none selected this category)
weekend of the citizens’ assembly.
The citizens’ assembly began with participants
considering the areas that are devolved to Wales. A panel of speakers delivered
background information about the Assembly, its budget, powers and role.
Participants were then asked to write down:
Participants reached conclusions on the areas where
they felt Wales is doing well on and the areas they saw as posing the biggest
“I’ve heard a lot of interesting and diverse views around the table – I’d like to see some of these actioned”.
Niz, citizens’ assembly member.
Participants then focused on the primary question
this citizens’ assembly was to address, how they – the people of Wales – want
to be able to shape their future through the work of the Assembly.
Participants heard from expert speakers who
presented evidence to the citizens’ assembly on the ways in which they can
already do this and then focused on the additional ways in which people in
Wales could be able to do this in the future.
functions participants focused on were:
Ways to shape the future by influencing committees’ work.
Ways to shape the future by engaging with the draft budget approval process.
Ways to shape the future by engaging in questioning the Government.
Ways to shape the future by helping to set the Assembly’s agenda (e.g. the petitions process, the Welsh Youth Parliament).
All participants completed a feedback form at the
end of the citizens’ assembly weekend, giving their views on whether or not
taking part in the citizens’ assembly had changed their feelings towards
participation in decision making more generally.
91% of participants strongly agreed
that taking part in this citizens’ assembly made them want to be more involved
in other aspects of decision making.
93% of participants strongly agreed
that they felt more confident to engage in political decision making as a
result of being involved in this citizens’ assembly.
“Coming here now and meeting lots of different people and listening to different opinions was really good – it was a really good weekend.”
Sarah, citizens’ assembly member
A citizens’ assembly report is currently being
drafted. The report will consider the following:
1. What participants value most about Wales as it
2. What participants see as the biggest challenges
3. The pros and cons of each additional way of
shaping the future;
4. Participants’ order of preference for
innovations in each of the four functions debated, and why;
5. Participants’ order of preference across all of
the innovations, and why;
6. Participants’ view on whether or not each
innovation should be considered for adoption, and why.
This will provide the Assembly with an excellent
understanding of what people in Wales see as the biggest challenges and how
people in Wales would like to be able to shape their future through the work of
The aim is to publish the report at a public event
at the Gwlad Festival of Politics in late September with the Assembly
Commission considering its response in the Autumn term.
team behind the citizens’ assembly
The evidence and information for participants was
compiled by the citizens’ assembly’s expert leads: Professor Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the
Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster and Dr
Huw Pritchard, lecturer in law at Cardiff University and member of the
Wales Governance Centre; Huw supported by putting together background
information for the citizens’ assembly.
Also, the Assembly Commission’s steering group
coordinated internal scrutiny and analysis whilst the Hansard Society provided
an impartial external critique.
Furthermore, the expert speakers, who are leading
academics and practitioners in this field, advised on the comprehensiveness,
accuracy and balance of the evidence the assembly was to hear on both current
and future opportunities for people in Wales to shape their future.
The citizens’ assembly guest speakers included the
expert leads, along with Dr Alan Renwick, University College London; Dr Diana
Stirbu, London Metropolitan University; Dr Clodagh Harris, University College
Cork; Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira, University of Leeds and Rebecca
Rumbul, Lead Researcher with My Society.
The Assembly Commission commissioned two leading organisations to deliver the citizens’ assembly event and recruitment. The Sortition Foundation, which delivers stratified, random selection solutions, and the Involve Foundation, the UK’s leading public participation charity.
To find out more about the citizens’ assembly, visit the Devolution20 website.