BEE experts are bringing a buzz to St Helens as part of a fun weekend of environmental activities at Church Square Shopping Centre.
An observation hive with thousands of bees, where children and adults can see the insect community up close, will be on display in the busy shopping mall.
It is part of a two-day Green Room event, run with St Helens Council’s Healthy Living Team and Ormskirk Beekeepers, which takes place from 11am to 4pm on Friday June 3 and Saturday June 4.
The aim is to fascinate youngsters and encourage families to enjoy the great outdoors.
Clara Planter and Digby Stomper will welcome youngsters into their Green Room in the centre’s St Mary’s Arcade to learn about health and nature through woodland walks and mindfulness.
They will encourage families to decorate a life-size tree with paper leaves, each bearing a picture or personal pledge to spend more time enjoying trees and nature.
There will also be information about the water cycle and healthy walks and activities in local parks as well as arts and crafts.
It will be the second family event at the centre during the school half-term break, as the popular Shopper Whopper Kids Club is on Tuesday May 31. The session, from 11am to 3pm, will see youngsters transformed into a pirate or fairy, before they join a treasure trail around the centre.
Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steve Brogan said: “We are looking forward to hosting this interactive Green Room event, which will encourage people to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors, especially now the days are getting warmer.
“We are lucky in St Helens to be within reach of some stunning green spaces and as a community it is up to us to get out there, enjoy them, and make sure we are supporting the nature and environment around us as much as we can.”
Derrick Harris has been an active member of Ormskirk Beekeepers ever since he began keeping bees himself, about 10 years ago.
He said: “The observation hive will contain several thousand bees and is a great tool to allow people to get very close to the bees and see what is going on inside but not be in any danger of getting stung.”
Derrick, who lives in Moss Bank, will be on hand on Saturday June 4 to explain about the bees and answer any questions about the honey bees he will be bringing, as well as about other insects.
“I know what the first question will be though,” he added. “Everyone always wants to know if they are wasps as they think bees are just the big, fluffy bumble bees and that the honey bees are wasps.
“People automatically dislike wasps but in fact they are vitally important to our eco-system as well as they are the meat-eaters, feeding on garden pests like greenfly and caterpillars, whereas honey bees and bumblebees are vegetarians. All are essential.
“As for stinging, the fundamental thing to remember is that they do not sting just to be nasty as when they sting, they die! They are defending their food supply which will see them through the winter.”
With three hives of his own, Derrick has been stung plenty of times over the years, saying that it goes with the territory as a bee-keeper but remains fascinated with the honey bees he has.
“Many bee keepers start the hobby as they like the idea of producing honey; but for a lot of us it is more about the fascination with these marvellous little creatures and the way they live,” he said.
“All the pollinators are in trouble at the moment so the more we can get both children and adults to understand and appreciate them the better.”
A spokesperson for St Helens Council’s Health Improvements Team said: “We are so excited to be joining the event at Church Square to help get local people involved, and discover more about Get Yourself Outdoors!
“It is a walking scheme run by the Healthy Living Team – the walks are free, friendly and can benefit your health.”
Church Square Shopping Centre is open daily and home to a range of big name stores – such as H&M, Fat Face, River Island, BHS, Boots and Superdrug – along with independent retailers plus the busy St Mary’s Market.
Details on what’s happening at the centre at www.churchsquaresthelens.co.uk or visit the Church Square Facebook page.