If you have any items of interest that you think would be suitable to be included on our website please let us know via our website Join & Contact Us page, phone 01702 207297 or drop in to 25B Belchamps Way or 2 Englefield Close. Only digital documents and photos please and if we believe they are appropriate we will include them.
As you know our last bank in Hockley, the Spa Road branch of Barclays, closed on the 9 October 2015 even after one of our Hockley Residents Association members Shirley James made considerable efforts to stop it. Now NatWest in Rochford, used by many Hawkwell residents, have announced that they will be closing on the 14 July 2016. I said when we lost Barclays in Hockley that it's just a matter of time before the Barclays in Rochford will close but I am surprised that NatWest beat them to it. The Rochford Barclays only opens 4 days a week at the moment but unless they get a lot more business from ex-NatWest customers, it's doubtful they will increase their opening days. I still believe it's just a matter of time that Rochford Barclays goes the same way Hockley's did. At least most of our banking can now be done at any Post Office. * You can pay cash and cheques in for 96% of UK banks with a 'paying in' slip free of charge. * You can withdraw cash using a debit card up to a daily limit pre agreed with your bank - most are set at £300 a day but this may be increased. * You can pay most bills in a post office, including utilities, telephone bills for free except £3.02 charge for water bills. Best to check for any charges before paying. * The Post Office ATMs can be used for all UK banks, to draw pensions and benefits. Some ATMs are external and available 24/7. The Post Offices also supply the following service – Mail, Drop & Go, Parcel Force Express Services, Foreign Currency, Travel Insurance, National Express Tickets, Savings Accounts, Lotto Tickets and Lotto Prize Payments. In larger Post Offices they also have Passport Check and Send and you can pay your Vehicle Road Tax. My thanks to Hawkwell Residents Association committee member Nick Astdon who runs the Hawkwell Parade Post Office for supplying this Post Office information.
Rochford District Council (RDC) has granted planning permission to replace units 27, 28 and 29 with 20 aesthetically unattractive flats above 5 shops in Eldon Way with the possible additional replacement of units 23, 24 25 and 26 with 30 flats above 8 shops. I believe this is not what was proposed in the RDC 'Hockley Area Action Plan' or in keeping with the residents 'Hockley Parish Plan'. As far as I can tell these unit are in full use at the moment, which would mean relocating these businesses to who knows where or loosing these businesses and associated jobs completely. These flats and shops will be in the wrong location surrounded by existing industrial units and a lack of sufficient parking facilities. In fact the 3 existing small car parks are for industrial unit permit holders only. Hockley has bucked the trend of mass shop closures but I doubt there is really the demand for these addition units located more than 200 metres from the existing shopping centre. I know some specialist shops can survive isolated from shopping centres and housing estates but I don’t think there is that much of a demand. Eldon Way is in no way a failing business area, in fact Units 2 and 3 have been completely refurbished and are now occupied by Howden's Joinery a nationwide business and refurbished unit 4 has also been taken. Unit 15 Digiflex, an online gadget company, is in the process of building an extension doubling their floor space. As far as I can see only non refurbished units 6 and 22 appear to be available at the moment. I am concerned these proposed flats will end up being run down private dwellings above empty shops surrounded by industrial units and although this area is mainly out of sight, it is not what I gather residents want for our village. There are some other planned developments that RDC has granted for Hockley but although we have objected, it's now too late. It may also be too late for the proposed Eldon Way development but not too late to vote in the 5 May elections for a council we deserve.
I found it very interesting to see the vast difference between the highest and lowest expenses claimed by our local MPs. Total Costs – Mark Francois £121,422.57 and James Duddridge £161,597.44 (£14,441.83 is accommodation) and why is David Amess spending £9,361.29 travel when Jackie Doyle-Price is claiming £0? It would appear to me that some MPs are not living near the area they are representing. Maybe, to keep the costs down, we should take this into consideration the next time we vote.
Essex County Council's ''Collective Energy Switch''
My annual energy contract was about to run out, although some last 2 years. This means unless you change, they automatically put you on a much higher standard tariff rate. You have 7 weeks to change over in during which they cannot charge for ending the contract early. Changing your contract early can be as much as £40, £20 each for gas and electric. I had an offer to sign up for Essex County Council's ''Collective Energy Switch'' and after a couple of weeks I got an email with my estimated savings of £595 for the year. Not trusting anyone these days, I compared the tariff with the one I was about to change from and was surprised that unit cost and standing charge for both gas and electric were considerably higher. I have not done the calculations but I would assume they were making comparisons with my suppliers standard tariff rate and not the current tariff rate that I am on at the moment. After using a couple of online comparison sites I finally changed with uSwitch. Although the electric rates are very slightly higher than my current ones, the gas prices are considerably better giving me a good saving overall with my heating costs. I have no way of knowing if my case is unique but be warned, do not change your supplier without a close look at the unit cost and standing charge tariffs for both services.
Pay More Get Less
I read that Rochford District council are putting the council tax up by 2% and charging more to park my car. They also plan to close all the public toilets and to charge £40 to empty the green bins. They already charge to park at Hockley Woods now they want to make that free and start charging to park at Cherry Orchard Park. I now don’t park at Hockley Woods and when they charge I will not be parking at Cherry Orchard Park. I believe we should be encouraging visitors to our towns and villages so they can spend money in our shops. Putting up parking charges and closing public toilet is not just an additional cost inconvenient for locals, it also another discouragement for visitors to our area. As for charging to empty green bins, I for one will not be paying. We don’t have much green waste and it will end up in the general waste bin like most people will do. There are elections in May, so I will be voting for someone that can come up with a few sensible policies and if they don't I will not be voting.
I believe a Costa in Hockley can only be a good thing for the village. I know people say that shop and food outlet chains turn shopping centres into clones but people also like to know they are going to get a certain standard that they have experienced in other locations. I personally don't use it, but I believe Domino's was the turning point in Hockley and we will probably attract a restaurant chain next (Ask?) and maybe a shop chain to follow (Pound Land?) with all the additional visitors and customers they attract.
In the Rochford District Council's Core Strategy it was agreed that 50 additional homes would be built in Hockley and 175 in Hawkwell. As I understand it the Core Strategy was developed to protect the district from house builder demands to release sites for uncontrolled development that could get approval from government appeals. Apart from minor house building approvals, approvals have been given for 175 homes off Rectory Road and 37 off Main Road in Hawkwell (accessed on a blind bend) and 75 off Folly Lane in Hockley. As far as I am aware, apart from an extra slip lane at the Rectory Road / Hall Road mini roundabout, there has been no improvement to local infrastructure that was talked about a number of times in the Core Strategy. It would appear to me that like the Parish Plans, this was a wasted exercise that cost local tax payers a great deal of money and is now being ignored. The junction of Folly Land and Main Road is a source of constant traffic hold up when driving in the direction of Rayleigh from vehicles turning right into Folly Lane. This will now get considerably worse when an additional 75 homes are added off Folly Lane with at least an additional 300 vehicle movements per day. I believe the issue is that house building comes under Rochford District Council and roads under Essex County Council (ECC). What is needed is joined-up planning under one organisation, in other words a unitary council as they have for Southend and Thurrock. Southend is not a perfect example but at least they have joined-up services.
The local elections come around again on 5 May 2016 plus a possible in/out EU referendum in June. This time the local elections cover a replacement Essex Police & Crime Commissioner, your Rochford District Councillors and depending on local interest in standing, your Hockley Parish Councillors. I shall be voting for someone that promises they will fight to:
1. Keep to the Core Strategy published house building numbers.
2. Get more police on the beat.
3. Get the street lights back on at night.
4. Fill in all the remaining pot holes on our roads.
Items 3 & 4 are actually ECC Highways responsibility but I would like to see pressure from local councillors on ECC to get something done. As I doubt anyone standing will do anything on this list, I possibly will not be voting and join the majority of apathetic voters.
The Hockley Residents Association social secretary organises great value coach trips including pick up points at various places between Rochford and Rayleigh:
20/05/2016 – Downton Abbey Country Experience.
24/06/2016 – Peter Beales Rose Nursery & Wicken Fen.
17/09/2016 – Wiltshire Golden Triangle.
27/10/2016 – Royal Hospital Chelsea & Eltham Palace.
For details please visit the events page on: hockleyresidents.co.uk & hawkwell.org. For additional information and to book please give Brian O’Shea a call on 01702 204334.
Alan James – Hockley and Hawkwell Residents Associations
Click on local news, information, newsletters and interesting websites below and also our Local Events Calendar . See Ashlea Simpson 'A Hawkwell lady living in the USA' and the 2011 update, near the end of this page. Also see Alexander Zass (Samson) a Russian strongman buried in Hockley, below and on our History & Photos page. We check website links from time to time but if you spot one that has change or has been deleted please let us know via our website Join & Contact Us page.
The teen shelter was built for Hawkwell Parish Council in Clements Hall Recreation Grounds a few years ago. The shelter was completely removed in July 2015 and all that remains now is a patch of weeds. Spot the difference:
Befrending Scheme My name is Karen Harper and I work for Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services. I am trying to promote the Befriending Scheme that we are running in the Castle Point, Rayleigh & Rochford area. The aim of the service is to provide companionship and emotional support to the residents of these areas from the ages from 18+. It helps:
· to increase their confidence and self esteem,
· have someone to talk to on a regular basis,
· have someone to enjoy activities with,
· help to become involved with the local community
· give confidence and motivate to join new clubs.
I am looking for ways to promote this service and to find volunteers to spend a couple of hours a week befriending our Befriendees and also to let the possible Befriendees find out how to access our scheme. All we look for from our volunteers is a couple of hours a week having a chat with a befriendee over a coffee. I have attached a leaflet to give you a bit more detail about what we do.
Karen Harper - Befriending Scheme PR Castle Point Association of Voluntary Services Ltd The Tyrells Centre, 39 Seamore Avenue, ,Thundersley Essex, SS7 4EX
At the end of August we had a month’s rain fall in an hour. A car was submerged nearly to the windows under the Church Road railway bridge. A second car got stuck under the Spa Road railway bridge in water that reached the car roof and was about two metres deep. The occupants including an adult and three children were lucky to escape with their lives thanks to three quick acting local passersby. The long term forecast is we will experience more and more extreme weather in the future. We believe these two bridges require an improved storm drain system to cope with future events that cut off the north of our village. The Spa Road railway underpass already has an issue with wide vehicles passing each other, which ought to be addressed before future increases in house building hits our area. We believe this could be overcome by installing a separate pedestrian underpass as they have done in Wickford, allowing for the road to be widened at this location without replacing the bridge.
In the Car Park behind Hockley Library is Hockley & Hawkwell's best kept secret - "The Hockley & Hawkwell 55+ Social Centre," where a warm welcome awaits you between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Established in 1989 by Hockley & Hawkwell Old People's Welfare Committee, it provides around sixty lunches, morning coffee and afternoon tea, daily for the older members of our community in modem comfortable surroundings. Lunch costs £4.50 and transport is available for those who are unable to get to the Centre under their own steam, in its wheelchair and zimmer frame friendly minibus, for a small donation However, you don't have to have lunch in order to attend the afternoon activities - Monday, Whist - Tuesday, Bingo - Wednesday, various pastimes, such as Cards Thursday, Entertainment or a Speaker and Friday, Scrabble but you don't have to be over 55 to pop in at 10 am / noon, to sample freshly baked scones or cakes with tea or coffee for under £1. When I first visited the Centre, a recently widowed lady told me how kind and supportive everyone was and how, having somewhere to go regularly, with such a warm atmosphere had helped her come to terms with the loss of her husband. If you feel this facility might suit you, why not pop in for coffee one morning to check us out or ring 01702 206208 for more details. The main reason for the Centre's success is a dedicated band of volunteers, who keep everything running smoothly. However, sometimes they are over-stretched so if you feel that you could give up a couple of hours to help, please ring Carol Warren on 01702 202582.
Echo Article 29 November 2012 – No, Boss, when we said the team needed a new winger...
Our feathery mascot - Josef Leverington with Memphis the hawk and team-mates
A Red-tailed hawk has become the latest signing at a community football club. The three-month-old bird of prey, called Memphis, made his debut for Hawkwell Athletics as their new mascot at the Hockley Community Centre, in Westminster Drive, on Saturday. About 300 eager residents flocked to the hall to catch a glimpse of the new addition, the first official mascot for the club. Youngsters from Hawkwell Athletics' youth teams held the new bird. Craig Leverington, club chairman, said: "Memphis is absolutely gorgeous and I'm sure everyone who came fell completely in love with him. "It's such an exciting time for the club to have this opportunity and he's well suited to our club name and colours. I'm sure he will find a happy home here." Memphis has been supplied by the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy in Barleylands Road, Billericay. For more information, visit: www.hawkwellfc.com .
Echo Article 29 November 2012 – Sign up now and save
Shoppers can sign up for money-saving vouchers and discounts with the launch of a new website. The award-winning Shop At My Local campaign is a partnership between Rochford District Council, Chambers of Trade for Rochford, Hockley and Rayleigh parish and town councils and the Federation of Small Businesses. Already 442 businesses are part of the campaign which offers special deals. For more information, go to: www.shopatmylocal.com .
Children’s Parties Try something different for your next birthday; we have a wide range of activities for you to choose from, suitable from 6 years old. Choose from bouncy castle, assault course, cork guns, pedal karts, climbing, crate stacking, archery, traversing wall. Also rifle shooting from age 8 plus and for the older age range 10 years plus, 5 different high ropes elements to choose from. All activities last one hour. Add approximately 30 minutes to your party time if you are booking party food. Our activity sessions are for groups of 8 or 12 depending on the activity. If you have more than this number please book two activities per hour. We take bookings Monday to Sunday 9am till 5pm. Please make sure that you have at least one adult to every 3 children for under 8s parties and one adult for every 6 children if it’s for over 8s. For £3.50 a head we provide a party box which contains A large sausage roll, a packet of crisps, box of raisins and a small cake. We cater for vegetarians also. The price per head includes a birthday cake and unlimited squash. Or you can bring your own food and hire a grass area, hall or marquee. Party bags can be provided at £2.50 per head. Activities available include: Climbing, archery, rifle shooting, pedal karts, cork guns, traversing wall, assault course, bouncy castle, pole joust, the leap of faith, crate stacking, high ropes traversing element, high all aboard and Jacobs ladder. Belchamps Scout Centre, Holyoak Lane, Hawkwell, SS5 4JD. Tel: 01702 562690 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.belchamps.co.uk .
If any one has an old car that they would like to dispose of without cost, Hawkwell Fire Station needs it to practice cutting techniques on. Please note that it is essential you have the logbook of any vehicle being donated. To donate your vehicles please contact Dan Clary at Hawkwell Fire Station in Main Road.
If you home was built in the past 20 years or so, it has probably got a soakaway in the garden for the roof rain water. Did you know that you can now save around £35 per year from you sewerage charge by informing Anglian Water? They will back date the reduction on your bill but only for the tax year to April 2009. To save around £35 for this tax year and all future tax years just freephone Anglian Water on 0800 91 222 91 with your request.
Are you unable to access conventional transport due to either having restricted mobility, temporarily unable to access public transport, living in an area not served by public transport or where your transport needs are not met by existing timetables. If you are a permanent resident of the our area then Wyvern Community Transport for Rochford District can help you. The scheme utilises drivers and the vehicles provided to meet the special transport needs of residents of Rochford District. To book the service phone 01702 544551 between 9.15am & 2.30pm (Mon - Thur) 9.15am & 12.00 (Fri). Email: email@example.com A yearly membership fee of £5 is payable and £2.50 per journey up to 4 miles. For journeys over 4 miles, 50p per mile is charged. See: http://www.rravs.org.uk/transport.html .
Britka Karate is a professional karate club based in the Southend on Sea area. They run classes in Wado Ryu Karate for children from ages 5 up to adults. They have been running karate classes successfully since 1991 and have classes for beginners and advanced students in the Leigh, Hadleigh, Hawkwell and Shoebury areas. Chief Instructor of Britka karate is Sensei Russell Garrard 4th Dan. For their website click on: Britka Karate
Weather permitting, free observing session at the Astronomy Resource Centre, Main Road, Hawkwell from 9pm. Phone Royston Dean on 01702 206244. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ashlea Simpson a Hawkwell lady living in the USA – Please see 'Good News' and 2011 update below
Extracts from three emails we have received from Ashlea Simpson a Hawkwell lady living in Idaho USA. Please Contact Us if you have any information that may help her:
(1) I am wondering whether you know how I might find out if my great-grandmother is buried at Hawkwell Church. She was 84, I think, and her name was Sara Ann Simpson (or Sarah Anne possibly). I used to stay with her at her home in Rochford during the 40's, and I remember going to see her on her deathbed (I lived in Brighton then). I believe I was 7 years old when she died, so that would have been in 1946+/-. I have a photograph of her standing by the front gate with the name of her home on the gate "ASH LEA". If I were in England I could perhaps research this myself but I moved to the US in 1958. I visited Rochford in 1978 and was floored by the changes - houses after houses, so many streetlights, etc. but her home was still standing then, as were the ones on either side. Thank you for any information you may have to help me in finding her final resting place. Ashlea
(2) I believe my great-grandmother is not buried in the little church at Rochford (built, I believe, by King Canute of the Danes), which was across from the dirt road where she used to live (with the woods at the other end). Her home had the name ASH LEA on the front gate. Like a bungalow with a large front porch and just past her home, right next door, was a brick two-storey house. They were both still standing in the late 1970's. And I'm not certain whether her first name was Sara or Sarah and her middle name Ann or Anne. I'm trying to remember her husband's name and it may have been Albert. Where that dirt road met the main road (by a pub across from a farm and the "Canute" church, we would turn right onto the main road by the newsagent/tobacconist's shop and the vicarage on the other side of the main road, and walk quite a way and then turn right again down a road to another churchyard - possibly Hawkwell Church? This is going back 60+ years so I don't recall the names of the roads, unfortunately. I will try to dig out some more information but not sure of my chances. I think that buried somewhere here I may still have an Easter postcard mailed from my grandmother to my great-grandmother which may give a clue as to her address. Ashlea
(3) I have now found out my great-grandmother's husband's name was Christopher (not Albert). Perhaps he is buried in the same churchyard as she is. I unearthed a letter from my mother dated June 21, 1982, with lots of family info but nothing re the correct spelling of my great-grandmother's first two names. Ashlea
One of our local residents has now located Ashlea's great-grandmother's grave in Saint Mary's Churchyard in Hawkwell after reading our news item. From a list of graves we found that three Simpson are buried there. Sarah Ann Simpson died age 86 in 1947 is in grave 1149, John Thomas Simpson died age 53 in 2000 is in grave 2023 and Christopher Thomas Simpson died age 70 in 1925 is in grave 699 (U/K). We sent Ashlea some photos of the churchyard and Sarah's and John's graves. Unfortunately Sarah's husband Christopher's grave is unknown (U/K), which means it is in the graveyard but as it is unmarked (no grave stone) they cannot find it. As John has the middle name Thomas I believe he may be a relative and as he died age only 53 in year 2000 there are probably more relatives living in the Rochford area. If you have any information for Ashlea please let us know via Contact Us. I have included extracts from Ashlea's emails of thanks below:
This is a wonderful surprise. Only yesterday I was wondering if any records had been found about my great-grandmother and I also came across our previous emails. It's sad that I had no knowledge of John Thomas Simpson as he died so recently and it would have been wonderful if I'd had the opportunity to meet him; he was born only 8 years after I was. I have no idea whose son he was, which is a shame. Thank you so very, very much for including my inquiry in your news item, and please do convey to the resident who took the time to locate these graves my very deepest gratitude. That was an extremely generous thing for them to do for a total stranger. I have looked at all the wonderful photos you have been so very kind to send me. I want to thank you or whoever took all these photos for me it was so very, very kind. What a beautiful church - makes me so homesick. I do remember going to visit the grave with my grandmother some short time after my great-grandmother was buried there. I will treasure all of these and, of course, make prints of them. Please be sure to thank everyone involved, including yourself, for finding out all this information and going the extra mile for me. This has been like a journey back to a gentler time. Ashlea
Extracts from four emails we have just received from Ashlea Simpson. Please Contact Us if you have any more information for her:
1) I am filled with guilt to bother you again, truly, but am wondering whether any of those churchyard records mentioned the home address of my great-grandparents Sarah Ann Simpson and Christopher Thomas Simpson. For the life of me I can't remember the name of their road. It was a dirt road with woods at one end and a main road at the other where, on the left, there was a pub and across from that there was an empty farm. Between my great-grandparents' road and the pub there was an identical dirt road also ending at the woods at the far end. I had friends there by the last name of French. I do recall during the war a fair was held over by the farm in the summertime and I recall hearing its loud music playing 'You Are My Sunshine'. Also across the main road was a newsagents / sweet shop / tobacconists and a bit further down to the right a stone wall which I believe bordered a vicarage. I would love to find their road / location on a map but am unable to. If you can't find any address records, never mind - I just thought it was worth a shot. Ashlea
2) I had thought maybe there was a possibility of written records somewhere in the church or town as to the addresses of the deceased, but maybe not. For some reason Albert Road is in my "mind" but it could be meaningless. I think that old, old church in Rochford near the farm and across from the pub might have been St. Andrew's? Not sure. Don't know the name of the pub or the farm - but I do remember climbing over the stile at the farm and walking around in the fields. Have been staring at Rochford maps till I'm cross-eyed but I think possibly those two dirt roads may now be long gone. They were there in the late 70s along with all the homes still, but I think it had been paved. Ashlea
3) Thank you so much for this information. Yes, I think it must have been Albert Road and, looking at the maps I have found online, I could see that the roads in that area were "unmade" and the community mostly rebuilt, I guess. That must have started shortly after my very brief visit in the mid-seventies when my great-grandmother's bungalow was still standing, as well as the homes on either side. At that time, I didn't bother looking for the name of the road because I knew where I was going. Trying to recall images in ones mind from 65 years ago, though, isn't a piece of cake exactly. So it probably was The Victory pub although I don't remember it as having so many windows in front in the 1940's. But I could be wrong easily and definitely the old church across the road from the pub I used to see was built by King Canute of the Danes - I do remember that as well as going inside the church many times in the 1940's as a young child wandering around the churchyard and the farm nearby - so it has to be St. Andrew's. Don't know if the empty farm with the stiles is still there, highly doubt it. It is very kind of St Mary's Church to send what information they could find including the Burial Registration of my great-grandmother. In view of the limited info kept back in those days, I'm sure no address would have been entered for Sarah's husband, Christopher Thomas Simpson, when he was buried in 1925, either. So I will try to find out how, online, I can get in touch with the Census Bureau or whatever it's called in England. Way back in time I believe most such records were at Somerset House but I'm sure that set-up is long since changed. Ashlea
4) That's terrific news I'm truly glad the Victory won't be converted into just another run-of-the-mill and meaningless blob of concrete with its only atmosphere being a screening room. Long live the Victory! And I'm really happy for the landlords. It's shameful how they were going to be cast aside - just as the huge TV screen will one day be for the latest fad. Ashlea
Extracts from an email to Ashlea from Pat a Hawkwell resident:
I have found on a site the following and wondered if sarah's name was ingram before marriage, and if they had a son called Joseph,who married a Lilian, who had a son called Stanley who married a Winifred if so, they have a family tree on ancestry going back to 1806 to Thomas and Charlotte. I know through my own family tree searching it is hard to match the people as there seems to be lots with the same name, if these are your relatives, i'll look at it again for you and send you more info. I also found Christopher Thomas Simpson of Mayblossom Ashingdon near Rochford died 15/12/1925 probate London 31 March to Sarah Ann widow effects £403 4s 10d could be the house was called Mayblossom? I hope you didn't mind me emailing you good luck in your search. Pat
Extract from Ashlea's reply:
Of course I don't mind you emailing me. Wow what a surprise ! Thank you so very, very much, Pat. Actually, the name on the gate of my great-grandparents' place was Ash Lea but, yes, Mayblossom certainly rings a loud bell. It may have been the name of an attached property or, as you say, another place where they lived, such as Ashingdon. Perhaps Sarah Ann moved to Ash Lea in Rochford after her husband, Christopher Thomas died in 1925. Yes, Sarah's maiden name was Ingram or Ingraham. Yes, they had a son Joseph - I loved him so very much, my grandmother's younger brother. Joe is the only one of her siblings I met though she had several. Her name was Phoebe Frances Simpson and she married George Wood. Joe and Aunt Lil (she was deaf) lived in Dagenham when I knew them (he worked at Ford) and they had a son, young Joe, who died in the war, a sailor I believe. Also I met Stanley, their second son, a really nice young man, so friendly. Also they had two daughters, Doreen and Olive, and another son, Gerald. I knew and loved them all so very much!!! How odd, even to this day, once in a while I dream I am back in their house - weird, huh? Especially if you bear in mind I left England back in 1958. There was a well in the back garden of Ash Lea as well as a miniature house I used to go inside at the bottom of the garden. Ashlea
By David Blackwood our bee keeping committee member.
I have been asked to write something for the Hawkwell Residents Association website about bees. It is thought that I ought to know something about them as I have been keeping honeybees for many years and I am the honorary secretary of the Southend-on-Sea and District division of the Essex Beekeepers Association. Of course this is such a large subject that no one knows everything there is to know about bees.
By the time you read this Newsletter the beekeeping season will be practically over. All species of bees will have made their preparations for the coming winter. Yes I say species, because there are some approximately 230 different species and sub-species of bees in Britain. Ranging in size from very small 3-4mm solitary bees to the largest of queen bumblebees of nearly 2 inches (50cm).
The majority of bees that you will see in your garden are the bumblebees. These are round, furry insects that vary in size and colouration. A young mated queen comes out of hibernation from a hole in the soil in late January or early February, and this depends on the actual species of bumblebee and the weather. She looks around for a place to make her nest and as she is not capable of collecting nesting material herself like a bird does, so she looks elsewhere. Often she will choose a compost heap, a discarded bird’s nest or an old mouse’s nest, somewhere nice and cosy. She goes foraging to collect nectar and pollen for her own consumption and to take back to the nest. In the nest she constructs a heap of mixed pollen and nectar and lays eggs on it. This she covers with wax from her wax glands and with wax she also constructs a honey pot in which she stores nectar for a rainy day when she cannot get out to forage. After between 4-6 days the eggs hatch into larvae and they eat the food that mother has been placed underneath them. After another period during which they grow by shedding their ‘skin’ several times they spin a substantial cocoon of silk in an upright position. After about two weeks the adult workers begin to cut their way out of their cocoons using their mandibles. According to one source of information it takes about 5 weeks from an egg being laid to the emergence of an adult bumblebee from the pupal cocoon. Now the solitary existence of the queen is at an end and she has help with foraging and the looking after other larvae.
The colony develops with the queen foraging less as there are daughters to do this work Some species can build up to about 100 workers all working for the good of the colony. Later in the year eggs are laid that develop into males and future virgin queens. The males when they emerge from their cocoons spend about four days in the nest maturing and when they leave the nest it is considered that they never return to it. They patrol an area leaving a scent trail on vegetation and when a young virgin strays into their territory she is pounced upon and mating takes place on the ground or other flat surface. When young virgins emerge from their cocoons they mature and then go out to forage returning back to the nest at nightfall.
These young virgins soon meet up with their male counterparts and mate. Once mated these queens continue to forage for pollen and nectar, which they break down internally into chemicals for storage in their fat bodies in preparation for hibernation during the winter. The young mated queen then digs a small hole in the soil and lining it with a solution from her Dufoss gland and salvia settles down to ‘sleep’ through the winter. Her metabolism slows right down and because of the chemicals in her body that act as an antifreeze she is able to withstand very cold temperatures. When the weather warms up in the spring she comes out of hibernation and the life cycle starts all over again.
There are 23 different bumblebees in Britain; of these 6 are cuckoo species whose queens take over a different bee species nest similar to the cuckoo bird. But it is the cuckoo queen that kills the rightful queen. The cuckoo queen does not lay eggs that develop into workers, only males and future queens. The workers of the rightful queen look after the usurper’s eggs and larvae.
There are six main species of bees that are found in your garden, and they are Bombus lapidarius (Large red tailed bumble bee, black with a brick red tail); B. terrestris (Buff tailed BB with yellow bands and buff tail); B. lucorum (Common white tailed BB yellow bands and white tail); B. hortorum (Common garden BB with three yellow bands and white tail); B. pratorum (Meadow BB yellow bands and red tail); and B. pascourum (Common Carder Bee dark or light brown BB). As I wrote in the beginning all of these species should have completed their life cycle by the time you read this article.
Did you know that if you are the only person aged 18 or over living in your property, you may be entitled to a 25% reduction in your Council Tax, see RDC Single Occupier Council Tax Information. You will need to complete an application form, available from the Revenues & Benefits Office. This information has been obtained from the Rochford District Council website.
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