Beekeeping at Earth Trust
By Earth Trust
Brightwell Bees are our resident beekeepers here at Earth Trust Farm. As one of our Farm Step Tenants, we work closely together to manage the most suitable locations for their beehives in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem.
Honeybees forage within a large 3-4 km radius of the hive, and can be found on a wide variety of plant species as the seasons change. As we move through the summer, blackberry bushes become a very important food source for honeybees so you’re more than likely to see them alongside footpaths. In autumn, ivy nectar tops up the 20 kg of honey stores which the bee colony requires for sustenance through the long winter months.
Brightwell Bees’ owners, Viv and Steve Moll, share what’s going on at their hives at the moment, and how the honey is influenced by the management of Earth Trust’s diverse green spaces.
“We are now into our most hectic time of the year – late spring and early summer is an extremely busy time for the beekeeper. With long days and warmer weather, the bees are at their most active foraging on the diverse range of tree, hedgerow and wild flower blossom at the Earth Trust. At this time of year, we have to be extra vigilant to watch for signs of the bees preparing to swarm – we set up artificial swarm hives which prevent the bees swarming out of the hive en masse.
We are also starting to harvest the spring honey from the hives. The bees have been busy gathering nectar from blackthorn, damson, wild cherry, wild plum, and hawthorn during the last few weeks. As well as the hedgerow blossom, they have been gathering nectar and pollen from larger trees such as sycamore, horse chestnut, and orchard fruit trees.
In early summer the bees will move foraging activities to the native lime trees, blackberry and of course all the summer wildflowers. The abundance of wildflowers will bloom in succession, providing for the bees all through the spring and summer. In fact, the carefully managed land at Earth Trust means our bees always have plenty of suitable forage to make the most delicious honey for us all to enjoy.
We have been keeping bees at Earth Trust for 15 years and are eternally grateful to the Trust for allowing us space in this wonderfully diverse and beautiful environment.”
To find out more about one of the ways we manage a diversity of habitats at Earth Trust, click here to read about our wildflower margins.
And if you’d like to support local, sustainable producers or find out more about Brightwell Bees, please visit their website at brightwellbees.co.uk