We saw the most enormous bumble bee in the poly tunnel the other day! This made us so happy because our bee friends are such an important part of how the farm garden grows.
Over these past few sunny days, we have seen more and more bees in the farm garden. This seems to signal that we are open for business!
There is a particular focus on allowing nature to do its thing as much as possible at the farm. The garden is evolving to become increasingly welcoming to creatures which help the ecosystem develop. At the moment, the garden is also very attractive to the lambs so we've had to erect some temporary fencing to protect the particularly tasty new growth on the fruit bushes and the edible flowers. .There are limits to our generosity!
Many of the edible flowers we grow such as calendula, cornflowers, borage, bee balm, thyme, and many others, are loved by the bees. This is great because bees are an essential part of the cycle of life. They carry pollen between plants which allows them to grow, produce fruit and therefore food for us to eat. Without this pollination, the millions of plants we rely on to feed us, feed our animals and transform into clothing (among other things), would not survive.
According to a recent report, 90% of global leading crop types are visited by bees, which means that when we are told that bees are in decline, we need to be worried. They are also responsible for the pollination of 85% of the wild flowers in Europe. These are wild flowers that provide habitats for wildlife and support for eco systems. Bio-diversity plays a crucial part in maintaining the health of the environment and of all the animals (including us!).
Bees are struggling due to climate change, to pesticide use and to reduction in habitats so at the farm we are trying to work in ways which will support their survival.
We pay particular attention to the types of plants we grow, making sure we have a wide variety which means that different species of bee can visit different plants.
We don’t use pesticides in the farm garden and rely instead on companion planting to deal with pests. We also have some helpful insects like ladybirds and chickens which enjoy finding the slugs.
There are also many little edges and hedges which we allow to grow wild, without much interference for us. There wild edges provide us with leaves to forage but also space for native plants to cater for the tastes of our bees.
There are over 200 species of bee in the UK and many are particularly suited to specific plants so we want to make sure that we offer as many as possible a home on the farm.
We are learning season by season how to protect the environment and like to think we can do our but by sharing some of what we learn or signposting you to places the have helped us.
There is always something we can do. Are there some edges you can leave for the bees? Which flowers can you grow which are particularly attractive to bees? The RHS has downloadable lists of plants for pollinators which are really useful.
The artist in me also loves what is beautiful in nature and I really like some of the things you can buy which will help the bees. These handcrafted bee homes made by Soot and Sawdust which come with a packet of seeds are lovely.
The bees and the other insects in the garden have also been a source of inspiration and I have a developed a range of cards which celebrate them.
The things we offer can be bought by getting in touch so that you can arrange to collect from the farm. We can also post some things out.
Spread the word and bee friendly!
(Photographs and Images Fiona Holiday)