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The first ever National Meadows Day is tomorrow, Saturday 4th July. You may have noticed National Museum Cardiff now has an Urban Meadow on the east side by the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre. It gives us a fantastic new outdoor learning space where just a lawn used to be. Check out our programme of events based around the meadow in What's On.

Our Urban Meadow with the bee hives on the roof is a positive approach by the museum to increase pollinators within Cardiff and are funded entirely through landfill tax. Meadows on our other museum sites help pollinators throughout Wales. With a no dig, no chemical policy, as well as introducing plants and seeds from Flora Locale recommended suppliers, we are following sustainable principles. 

Children have used the Urban Meadow to start investigating the natural world, children who may not otherwise have visited a museum. The next event is ‘Family Fun in the Meadow’ on Saturday 11th July: Help our OPAL scientist to survey the bug life in our urban meadow and learn to be a botanical illustrator. See the What’s On guide for further information

You can find further information and links to events for National Meadow Day on the Plantlife webpages

Also you can follow the Twitter hashtag: #magnificentmeadowsday

By Sally Whyman and Kath Slade

Have you been keeping up to date with our Museum Bee Keeper's diary? Well here is the latest installment of how our bees are getting on:

With a trip to the US meaning I couldn't keep tabs on the bees for three weeks, the other beekeepers are pressed into service to look after the hives. It’s good to know that everything is in safe hands while I’m away, plus my absence gives some of the others a chance to have bit more “bee time”.  In the weeks prior to my departure our strong colony was looking very full of bees, with numerous queen cups having been removed and there being a large number of drones (males) in the hive. We knew that there was always a possibility of swarming and in an attempt to curtail this I’d asked my fellow keepers to keep a close eye on the hives and to check regularly as we can’t risk having a new virgin queen hatch.

On the 22nd May, Catalena and Nigel went to check the hives, here is her report:

"Nigel and I went up to see the bees today, It was an overcast day, not raining and not that windy really and the temperature was about 14 degrees. The strong colony was REALLY full of bees and very busy, there were also LOTS of queen cells being made. We removed SIX active queen cells, 2 of which were much longer than the others. Maybe the other 4 were 'suspect dome shaped Drone cells'. There were also lots more empty queen cells (more than 6 others) which I crushed with the hive tool. The hive is just so full we feel sure that swarming is inevitable. There are lots of drones and drone cells too. We considered moving another frame of brood over to the quieter hive, which would be a good idea but decided to leave that for another visit. We cycled the frames in the super, moving the emptier ones to the middle. We spotted the queen with her big green spot on her back, she nearly crawled out of the hive but we spotted her and we were about to catch here when she turned around and crawled back in.

The less productive hive is still very quiet although there were still bees flying out and bringing back pollen. We took the lid off the hive to have a closer look but didn't disturb anything. There is still lots of syrup/honey in the contact feeder and the bees are still using it, so we left it in the hive.

We checked the new hive with the swarm lure inside but unfortunately it is still empty.

On an eventful note, Nigel got stung on the calf by a bee that crawled up his trouser leg! Not nice at all but Nigel can handle pain!  I think I would have cried if it had happened to me!"

Keep posted for more news about of museum bees.

Today at National Museum Cardiff we are celebrating the very first International Polychaete Day, held in honour of a great polychaetologist, Kristian Fauchald who sadly passed away on the 5th April this year. Today would have been his 80th birthday, and museums and scientists are celebrating the wonderful diversity of marine bristleworms across the globe.

Polychaetes or marine bristleworms are a diverse group of segmented worms related to earthworms and leeches, and are abundant in marine and estuarine environments. Often the dominant animals living in seabed environments, they have important roles in marine food chains and reprocessing of nutrients, but are also indicators of the health of seabed habitats. The Museum has been carrying out research into this fascinating group since the 1980s and is the largest repository of Welsh polychaetes globally.

In honor of the day, we have published a story of our #WormWednesday Tweets for the last six months and we have been tweeting via the #InternationalPolychaeteDay hashtag.

Why not follow @CardiffCurator to find out more.

Inspired by Kristian's famous 'Pink Book' for identifying polychaete worms everywhere, we have today released a special pink version of the logo for the 12th International Polychaete Conference, which will be held at the museum next August.


Climate-change study in your own school yard
Science & Geography (KS2)


Make use of your outdoor classroom! Join the 175 schools taking part in this exciting investigation.


Spring Bulbs for Schools provides primary school pupils with the opportunity to adopt, study and record the development of spring bulbs as part of a spring watch network. Each pupil will receive a Tenby Daffodil, Crocus bulb and garden pot to record growth and flowering times.

Through collecting and comparing real data pupils discover how our changing climate is affecting our seasons and what this means for ourselves and the nature around us. Pupils take part in Professor Plant's Challenges to receive a super scientist certificate.

Any schools in Wales can take part as results are collected over the internet (or by post if necessary). This is an on-going investigation which means schools can take part year after year.

To apply for Spring Bulbs for Schools 2015-2016 please fill out the online application form by following the link below.

Application are now open but numbers are limited so apply soon to ensure your place on the project! Application is only open to schools in Wales. Recruitment for English and Scottish schools has closed but please contact The Edina Trust for information about taking part in the project 2016-2017.

Spring Bulbs for Schools - Application form

For enquiries please Email SCAN

This sculpture donated this month is titled “Welsh Anthracite Collier”. The original was created by George Brinley Evans in 1963, and this version was cast in bronze by Mark Halliday in 2012.

George Brinley Evans worked at Onllwyn Colliery and, as an artist, the material he most often used was household emulsion and watercolour on cheap paper. He recorded miners' working methods and technical expertise and resilience in the face of danger. After losing an eye in a mining accident in 1961, he turned to modelling figurines of his workmates and national heroes, using cheap and alternative material, usually a wire armature covered in layers of old nylon stockings soaked in plaster, which is then teased into shape and sprayed with car paint. This sculpture was created in the same way, with this version cast in bronze. It has then been sprayed black by the artist. The pose looks unnatural, but the artist is depicting the awkwardness of men mining in small spaces.

More examples of his work can be seen here, on the ‘Images of Industry’ online database. His work “Aros am Golau” is on display in the galleries at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

17th May 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the Cambrian Colliery explosion. The explosion, caused by firedamp, claimed 31 lives, the youngest victim being only 24 years old. This images shows the front cover of the programme for the 50th anniversary memorial service. This programme along with a souvenir publication "The Old Timer" released to mark the 50th anniversary was donated at the end of May.

These two photographs show Cambrian Colliery. The black and white one was taken from the south east in 1960. The colour photograph was taken a few years after the explosion in April 1967.

Amgueddfa Cymru has recently produced an edition of our ‘Glo’ magazine to commemorate this disaster. A copy can be downloaded here

This was not the first disaster at this colliery. On 10 March 1905 an explosion at Cambrian Colliery No. 1 resulted in the death of 33 men.

This badge inscribed ‘Rhymney Valley Support Group’ was produced during the 1984-85 coal strike. Donated recently it adds to an important collection of strike badges held by Amgueddfa Cymru. Many of these strike badges can be seen on display at Big Pit: National Mining Museum.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW