About a third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated crops, and honeybees contribute to 80% of the work. With colonies on the decline – and our love of honey in mind – we are thrilled to support Bees for Development for a wonderful event this summer. The international charity promotes sustainable beekeeping in developing countries by providing poor communities with low-cost beehives, allowing them to harvest and sell the honey that is produced – and helping to protect biodiversity too.
Hosted by BBC Radio 4 presenter Martha Kearney and Classic FM presenter Bill Turnbull – himself a keen beekeeper – the Bee Garden Party is a biennial celebration of bees and the work of the charity. The centrepiece of the event is a special auction, which will put a series of artworks under the hammer. 80 drawings and paintings of bees have been created by acclaimed artists and celebrities especially for sale, from Sir Antony Gormley, Gilbert & George and Maggi Hambling to Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley and Sir Ian McKellen. Bidding has already begun here.
The event will take place in the gardens of the historic Marlborough House, a 300-year-old Royal palace in St James’s that’s a stone’s throw away from our Piccadilly shop. The Grade I-listed mansion is not open to the public, and Her Majesty The Queen and Baroness Scotland kindly grant permission for the event to be hosted each year.
Throughout the evening guests will enjoy Fortnum’s Champagne and cocktails served from a giant hamper, and decadent ice creams scooped from our mobile Parlour Cart. The Fortnum’s Ferris Wheel – yes, this is a real thing – will also be showcasing some of our most fantastic honeys. Fortunately as they are non-sentient jars, none of them are afraid of heights.
There will also be hive-weaving demonstrations, a spectacular floral installation by McQueen’s, a toe-tapping performance from the Commonweath Steel Band, and a traditional raffle with bee-themed prizes.
All proceeds from the auction and ticket sales will go to Bees to Development.