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Maddie Moate fronts first beekeeping challenge on British TV in new BBC series, Show Me The Honey!

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With Bafta-winning presenter and bee enthusiast Maddie Moate at the helm, the 7 x 30’ series follows four families from across the UK on their beekeeping, honey-making adventure.

Bees have been busily making delicious honey for what could be as many as 100 million years, and evidence suggests that humans have been keeping bees for 9,000 years.

The CBBC series will capture all the ups and downs of beekeeping – from the joy of receiving their hive, bees and suits, through to the tribulations of maintaining a hive, up to its climactic final harvest.

Beekeeping is a brilliant process full of natural jeopardy. There are months and months of love, care and attentiveness involved, building to that all-important moment – have the bees actually produced any honey?

The families won’t have to go it alone though – as well as Maddie they’ll have beekeeping expert Curtis Thompson on standby to give advice and lend a hand throughout the process. Each week Maddie and Curtis will put them through their paces in Bee School where they will learn about topics such as the worker bees’ ‘waggle dance’, insect vision and bee surveys.

There is also the Weekly Challenge. These challenges include building a solitary bee B&B, creating a pollen paradise, and designing logos for their honey. Families will go head to head in challenges at home to win a ‘Golden Bee’ to proudly adorn their hive with.

The Hive – the show’s very own social media platform – will allow the teams to collaborate, share their experiences and beekeeping travails, ask questions of their beekeeping mentors and create their own beekeeping community.

There will be interesting bee facts, and each week Maddie will also present a film delving deeper into the many incredible characteristics bees possess, highlighting the role they play in the food chain and touching on wider messages around the environment and conservation.

Throughout the series, which is the very first Beekeeping Challenge on British TV, a host of celebrities will encourage the beekeepers on their journey.

Maddie, who kept bees as a child, says: “We all love honey and bees are vital to our eco-system, now more than ever. With green fingers and sticky hands we want to inspire the next generation of eco-conscious youngsters to get outside, support our precious pollinators and maybe even encourage them to try their hand at beekeeping with a local expert.”

Ultimately, the beekeepers will be striving to be crowned the Beekeeper Of The Year by producing the best and sweetest tasting honey. Judges will include chef Ainsley Harriott, who will be creating a celebratory dish with the winner’s honey, before they take home a special Show Me The Honey trophy.

The different environments of the beekeepers’ homes across the UK each provide their own unique challenges to our budding apiarists, from weather conditions to whether they have neighbours to consider. The honey they produce is literally a product of its environment too.

Curtis says: “Honey produced in an inner-city environment, which tends to have high variety of flowers, will taste very different from a countryside honey where the bees may have been exclusively visiting one crop such as heather. So it will be interesting to see who comes out on top – the city, suburban or countryside teams?”

Show Me the Honey! is made by Interstellar TV for CBBC and will air on CBBC and BBC iPlayer in September.

Did you know?

In Britain we have around 270 species of bee, just under 250 of which are solitary bees. Only the honeybee produces honey.

Bees are incredibly important to our environment, pollinating 80 percent of all British flowers and a third of the food we eat. However, they are in a state of crisis due to the use of pesticides, climate change and the loss of flower-rich habitat. The situation is so bad that a third of Britain’s native bee population has disappeared over the past 10 years, and 35 species of bee are currently under threat of extinction across the UK.

Honey bees are very fast learners and have a keen artistic eye. By putting drops of sugar syrup on Monet’s artwork and drops of quinine on another artist’s work, in just a few hours the bees learn to recognise the artists’ styles – even when presented with new artwork they’ve never seen before! The bees associate Monet’s style with sugar, so they land on his other artwork too.

It is possible for honey bees to fly as far as five miles for food. A very strong colony – around 60,000 bees – therefore flies the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon every day! (Source: British Beekeepers Association) But, if you move the hive more than three feet while they’re out, then they won’t be able to find it!

It is estimated that it would cost farmers in the UK an incredible £1.8 billion per year to manually pollinate their crops without bees. [Source: Woodland Trust 2018, Acclimatise UK, University of Reading 2012 – Press release, The Original Study with Figure 2012 – Page 6; BBC News – Honeybee shortage threatens crop pollination in Europe]

Bees see ultraviolet waves, so their colours look different to our colours. And they can’t see the colour red – it looks black to them!

Garden bumblebees have the longest tongue of all UK bees and at a stretch it can reach just over 2cm.

Bees maintain a temperature of between 32 and 35 degrees celsius in their hive, which they do by flapping their wings very quickly for warmth or flapping their wings at the entrance to the hive to cool it down.