friends of birkenhead park

That which is good should be preserved

Edward Kemp Community Garden

A place for community groups and schools to grow!

Edward Kemp Garden

The Edward Kemp Community Gardens and Growing Area

In 2008 the Friends formed a community Interest company called Park Roots and this company has successfully applied for a number of grants with the most successful being the Local Food Grant. The grant was to establish the Edward Kemp Community Gardens and Growing Area (EKCGA).

The EKCGA (named after the first superintendent of the park, see more about Kemp here...) address a range of recognised needs within the local community in terms of skill training, volunteering and health benefits.

The site is shared between the Friends of Birkenhead Park and the numerous community groups and schools who rent plots on the site. The Friends volunteers learn how to grow plants and produce which they sell at various events during the summer.

The project also provides regular training opportunities including landscaping, composting, intro to gardening, lawn mower training etc.

The site has a number of features including a bog garden, sensory garden, well and more recently a bee hive!

There are currently two volunteer beekeepers who were a little anxious when 5000 bees arrived in May. A few months on and they are both more confident about working the hive and the 30000 bees that now live there. The bees are currently located in the South Lodge Courtyard and we will be, in the spring, starting a programme of scheduled visits to see the bees. Watch our events page for further details.

The bee project has been funded by the Postcode Lottery which was gained by Blackburne House in Liverpool. The project is the first to deliver the Lantra Level One in Beekeeping.


Welcome to the Edward Kemp Honeybees 1

There are three castes to a honeybee hive: The queen, the drones and the workers.

The Queen

The cycle of a queen is the same as the worker and drone bee except she emerges on day 16. The queen is fed royal jelly or queen jelly during the larva stage of her life. It is noteworthy that a queen emerges the soonest, on day 16 because if a hive is queenless, they will perish within one month without a queen laying eggs. So she must emerge quickly to save the hive. A honeybee hive has only one queen per hive. The hive must have a queen in order to grow and survive. The queen is the only bee in the hive that lays eggs producing the next generation of bees. She lays eggs between 1,000-3,000 eggs per day...yes, 1,000-3,000 eggs per day.

The worker bee

Worker bees are all female and they do not lay eggs.
The worker bee will start work in the hive as soon as she emerges, cleaning her cell, nursing the young, making wax and fanning the hive until she is 21 days old. Then, she is rewarded her wings and begins foraging for nectar, water, pollen and propolis. In the summer, she will work herself to death, usually only living in total 35-45 days.

Drones are the male bees

Drones live around 90 days. Their only objective is to mate with a virgin queen. They differ in size and shape from the worker bee in that they are stockier, have larger eyes, usually appear slightly darker in colour and do not have stingers. They will not and CANNOT sting you. They eat and wander around looking for a virgin queen. They are the only bee who is allowed to travel from hive to hive. They are important to have so that virgin queens can mate and begin laying eggs. Once the queen has mated with several drones during her mating flight, she will be able to lay eggs the rest of her life and will never mate again. They are not allowed to stay for the winter and are expelled from the hive to die.


Honey bees collect flower nectar and convert it to honey which is stored in their hives. The nectar is transported in the stomach of the bees, and is converted to honey through the addition of various digestive enzymes, and by being stored in a "honey cell" and then partially dehydrated. Nectar and honey provide the energy for the bees' flight muscles and for heating the hive during the winter period. Honey bees also collect pollen which supplies protein and fat for bee brood to grow. Centuries of selective breeding by humans have created honey bees that produce far more honey than the colony needs. Beekeepers, also known as "apiarists," harvest the honey, which is stored in their hives.


When a hive is congested (no more room for the queen to lay eggs or the foragers to store incoming pollen and nectar) and the nurse bees are unemployed, swarming is triggered. Once triggered, it may take weeks for the colony to finally swarm. The queen is too heavy and must be slimmed down for flight. Replacement queen cells must be built and the queen will lay eggs in the cells so the bees left behind will have a new queen. The queen will stop laying eggs. Scout bees begin looking for a suitable new location. Finally, once the replacement queen cells are capped, the hive will swarm. A little over half of the hive leaves and the rest stay behind to await the emergence of the new queen from her cell.


The queen bee has a smooth stinger and can, if need be, sting skin-bearing creatures multiple times, but the queen does not leave the hive under normal conditions. Her sting is not for defence of the hive; she only uses it for dispatching rival queens

A honey bee that is away from the hive foraging for nectar or pollen will rarely sting; except when stepped on or roughly handled. Honey bees will actively seek out and sting when they perceive the hive to be threatened, often being alerted to this by the release of attack pheromones.
One stinging bee can turn into thousands of stinging bees very quickly.

The female worker bees are the only ones that can sting, and their stinger is a modified ovipositor.

The larger drone bees, the males, do not have stingers.

Release of alarm pheromones near a hive or swarm may attract other bees to the location, where they will likewise exhibit defensive behaviours until there is no longer a threat, typically because the victim has either fled or been killed.
These pheromones do not dissipate or wash off quickly, and if their target enters water, bees will resume their attack as soon as it leaves the water.

(Note: A true swarm is not hostile; it has deserted its hive and has no comb or young to defend.)

August and the bees

Since the nectar flow will end this month, the bees will become much more flighty, searching for nectar which is now not as plentiful to find. The bees are making a final effort to store up for winter, searching for final nectar sources. Golden rod and Aster plants can provide an average nectar flow in the fall.

March 2017 & our ducks arrive back at EKG

 Your community garden at Birkenhead Park needs you!



Now that summer is finally here it’s a great time to learn more about gardening, grow your own fruit and vegetables and make new friends at the same time by becoming a volunteer at the Friends of Birkenhead Park’s Edward Kemp Community Garden.

 The garden, which opened in 2011, is a thriving, green oasis that brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds to enjoy gardening and the opportunity to meet new people, but it urgently needs more volunteers to help it to continue to grow successfully.


Project leader Sheila Blair said: “We have a real mix of ages, gender and background coming along every week and everyone gets so much out of it, whether it’s growing their own produce or just enjoying the chance to garden with new friends.

 “It’s a big space and we have a lot going on all year round, so the more volunteers, the better.”


Liz Barrington has been volunteering for four years. She said: “I was looking for volunteering opportunities after I retired and I came to the park to find out more. It really is a little haven here and I am always relaxed when I’m gardening.”


The Edward Kemp Community Garden is a welcoming and inclusive space for people with a range of health and mobility issues. A range of community organisations and groups also have their own plots within the garden.


Liz added: “I enjoy helping those people who need more support and I’ve made some great buddies over the years.”


Anyone wanting to find out more about volunteering can visit the garden at Ashville Road, Birkenhead, to speak to the team every Wednesday morning from 10.30am. You can also email and volunteer application forms can be downloaded from

Greggs raised beds

May 25th: Today Andy Sim took charge of the first of the Greggs raised beds and with some assistance from the Friends volunteers started planting”.

Andy and Gemma.jpg Andy with first plant.jpg volunteers looking on.jpg water the essential for growing.jpg

Andy  and Gemma

Volunteers look on

Andy  with first plant

Water - an essential