Pettypool Activity Day 21 May

IMG_2856PettypoolChester and District Friends of the Earth  and Rainbow Activity Day By – Helen Tandy

I met Judith Hancock as part of the Chester Zoo Wildlife Connections project. She mentioned she had set up an activity day linked to the Zoo’s project, at the Pettypool centre near Northwich. She asked would I be able to take part and run a session on bees. I managed to rope in Alison also from Chester and District Friends of the Earth (FOE) to help.

Pettypool Campsite and Activity Centre in 17 acres of woodland in the heart of Cheshire. It offers a variety of facilities to provide opportunities for indoor and outdoor activities ranging from a Rainbow Day to Senior Section camping. Pettypool is run by a small team of volunteers who work to ensure Cheshire Forest has a fantastic outdoor base.

Why did we get involved?

Our bees are in crisis, without them, our environment and economies – including our food – are in trouble too.  We need them to pollinate our fruits and vegetables – it would cost farmers £1.8 billion a year to hand pollinate crops.

Here in the UK, bees are facing many dangers such as:

  • Habitat loss
  • Toxic neonicotinoid pesticides
  • Climate change

At FoE we are campaigning to protect our bees through our ‘Bee Cause’ campaign. We want the government to ban, bee harming pesticides. We want to educate everyone including children, on how important the bees are and the perils they face.

I provided Judith with the FoE children’s activity pack and she picked the Waggle dance, as a way to explain to the Rainbows how the bees communicate to each other. She also asked us to enthuse the children about bees and how important they are to crops.

For those that don’t know the Waggle dance is a term used for a particular figure-eight dance of the honey bee. By performing this dance, successful foragers can share, with other members of the colony, information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new nest-site locations.

The children also completed various other activities some to take home and some for the site. These included making bug houses, bird houses and bird feeders. Tasting honey, making bees wax candles and building a bug hotel. Even with the little bit of rain we had the children seemed to thoroughly enjoy the day and were a pleasure to spend time with.

Alison and I were exhausted by 3pm, having completed the dance and song around 10 times with small groups during the day. The day ended with the whole group singing and one more Waggle dance before the weary Rainbows went home, laden down with all the items they’d made during the day.

We have been asked to visit a few of the group sessions and speak to some of the Brownies. We are both looking forward to our new relationship with Brownie Guides within the region.

Helen Tandy & Alison Shearer-Knott