Milton Park: A Bee story
Published on 20 May 2022
Following the opening of our new flexible workspace, the Bee House, on World Bee Day (Friday 20 May), we’re buzzing to share the story of our special relationship with our chosen spirit animal, the humble, hardworking and energetic bee.
The theme for this year’s World Bee Day is ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems’, raising awareness on the importance of the wide variety of bees and sustainable beekeeping systems, the threats and challenges they face and their contribution to livelihoods and food systems.
Here, we explain what we’re doing at Milton Park to look after our pollinator friends.
Looking after our bees
Bees are in trouble - with around 35 bee species in the UK that are under threat. Globally, 90% of wild flowering plant species as well as 75% of food crops rely on pollination, so we’ve made sure there are measures in place to help protect the bee community at Milton Park.
Right now, we have two separate beehives which are given special care by our Nurture Landscapes team, and we are planning two more to be in place by the end of the year. Nurture carefully maintains the beehives at the Park, organises the wildflower plantings and arranges for an expert team of beekeepers to harvest the honey at the end of the year.
We have 1400m2 of wildflower meadows with another 1500m2 planted this Spring. The meadows not only make the Park a pleasant place to be when they’re in bloom, but also provide a reliable source of pollen and nectar for the Park’s resident bee colonies. We’re also taking part in No Mow May, allowing grass across the Park to grow and attract wildlife, including our favourite insect, the bee.
Strategic planting with a diverse range of flowering times means they can provide the honeybees with as much pollen and nectar as possible throughout the year to sustain them through the winter months.
Later in the year we’ll also be analysing the honey produced on the Park for the very first time. This will help us to see where the bees originated from, how long they stay with us, what types of plants they’re attracted to and the type of nectar from which the honey is produced. We’re really interested to learn more about our bees and can’t wait to share the findings with you as soon as we have them!
Once ready, our team hope to harvest the honey generated from the beehives and give more jars away to the people who work at the Park.
The Bee House – an origin story
The pandemic has shown us that more than ever, companies are after flexibility when choosing where to work.
Creating a space that encourages collaboration and cross-pollination between companies has been the vision for the Bee House from the very beginning.
Repurposing an existing building which has outlived its original purpose is the most sustainable of all construction methods, as it saves high a percentage of embodied energy within the fabric of the building, reduces demolition waste, minimises the need for new materials and reduces the level of construction traffic visiting the site.
While drawing up the plans for the Bee House, the team discovered that the what3words square for where the Hive café is located is ///feasted.cloud.honeybees, providing further evidence that the name and vision for the building was simply meant to bee! This discovery came after we previously found that the what3words square outside the front door of our Innovation Centre (99 Park Drive) is ///scores.honey.ambitions.
The Bee House – a place for bees to stop by
When developing the Bee House, we wanted to ensure that we created as lasting positive impact for our resident pollinators. Thanks to ASA Landscape Architects, the Bee House has its own sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) that will create unique ecosystems of biodiversity in the specially designed garden spaces.
A water course previously screened by the parking area has been opened up to create a new wildflower meadow, designed to attract buzzing bees and other pollinators throughout much of the year. A bespoke bee hotel has also been introduced, integrating branded signage with a home for solitary bees.
Bee Meadow Artweeks Exhibition
If you thought we couldn’t get enough of bees, then you’d be right! Milton Park took part in Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival by hosting an art exhibition entitled 'Bee Meadow' at the Bee House (16-20 May). Featuring a range of artists and exhibitors, the exhibition was held within the Bee House atrium and Buzz conference room.
Visitors to the Bee Meadow exhibition had the opportunity to buy the artwork on display with 10% going to the Didcot Powerhouse Fund. Those visiting the exhibition could also buy refreshments from the new Hive Café and take a tour of the Bee House itself.
On World Bee Day itself (20 May), alongside the exhibition, we invited those that had contributed to the vision and creation of the Bee House to celebrate its opening together - for a sneak peak of the event, watch the video below or via our YouTube channel.
Join the buzz
The Bee House offers a range of small and medium-sized flexible office spaces, ranging from 97 - 2,574 sq. ft (9 - 239m), providing companies with the flexibility to fly and spread their wings. The space also features a 145-seat conference facility, the fun and vibrant Hive Café, as well as meeting rooms which are all named after varieties of honey. For individuals who want to bee-long to this new dynamic community, there are also a range of co-working memberships on offer to suit every need.
There are a number of convenient ways for people to travel sustainably when visiting the Bee House. For keen cyclists, there are secure bike parking areas, a cycle hire hub, showers, and heated lockers. Fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) points are also easily accessible to those who need to plug in. Like others based at Milton Park, for just £20 per year, people working at the Bee House can benefit from unlimited bus travel within Didcot.
To find out more and join the buzz, please visit https://www.bee-house.co.uk/.