For the first time in weeks we had a sunny day, although accompanied by a keen, chilly, wind. This was fortunate as I had volunteered for another scrub clearing session on Bronkham Hill, close to Hardy’s Monument. It was in a different part of the area today and we were trying to reduce gorse and brambles in order to stop them swamping heather and dwarf gorse.
There were more volunteers than usual, over a score, as the Dorset Wildlife Trust had combined for the occasion with the South Dorset Ridgeway group. I found myself working next to a young lady, Emma, who had the creative idea of, instead of putting the dead wood on the bonfires, making heaps for wildlife, animal and vegetable, to use. We had 4 decent sized heaps by the end of the day. We looked at the different species of lichen on the twigs.
As it always does, conversation turned to bees! Emma would like to become a beekeeper but it would be inconvenient at the moment as she is about to move house and is looking optimistically at an ancient dwelling with a good sized garden at Misterton, which is about 2 miles (and thus within bee flight) north east of my apiary at Seaborough. This might be convenient if she wants to become an apprentice in due course.
She has a friend who is already a beekeeper and is doing a course with Devon BKA. She lives at Wayford, about 2 miles west of my apiary. I gave Emma my card so she or her friend can get in contact if they feel it would be helpful.
Having started at 10, we paused for lunch at 1, to eat our picnics. However I didn’t eat all mine as cake was handed round! I gorged on 5 pieces of our leaderine, Jill Hearing’s, blueberry and apple cake, 2 pieces of fruit cake and one slice of flapjack. I was rather full and reclined for a powernap on some comfy heather. I could hear somebody speculating whether I’d collapsed but then said he could see my chest moving so I was still alive!
In the afternoon we took things more gently, feeding the bonfires, pottering and nattering. While gathering small stuff for a wildlife heap I found a large roe deer antler! I brought it home and must devise a use for it. We packed up at 3pm and walked the half mile back to the car park. With impeccable timing, the sky stopped being cloudless and we could see a change was on the way.
Instead of driving home, I went over the hill to Little Bredy where I successfully foraged for a geocache. I was the very first to find it! I’ve never scored a ‘FTF’ before!
This evening I went to The Junction pub in Dorchester for a ‘green drinks’ session for like minded people to socialise. Mostly we have links with the Transition Town and the Community Farm. I think there were 8 of us around the table. Marion, my friend who drove me home from the hospital when I broke my leg, wasn’t there as she was busy doing yoga (if that isn’t an oxymoron!), but she turned up later and relaxed with us.
Once again the conversation turned to bees. They’ve just been given an additional 7 hives by somebody who is giving up due to age and infirmity. They will be able to keep them where they are now, which is convenient as the apiary is only a couple of miles from the apiary on the farm.
I explained the benefits of the top bar hive and we discussed the affect of lighting a smoker of the beekeeper rather than the bees.
Sat next to me was Dr Kathy Hodder who is a (young!) Senior Ecology Lecturer at Bournemouth University. I don’t think she has bees of her own, but I think she plays with the ones on the farm and I once showed her my TBH at Ourganics. Kathy told me that Prof. Jurgen Tautzz (possibly mis-spelt) has retired and is now working on a project setting up rooftop hives at a number of universities, including Bournemouth. The colonies will generally be left alone to fend for themselves but they will be intensively monitored electronically for temperature, weight, activity etc.
Kathy has just bought lots of bee-friendly seeds from apprentice Sarah of Bee Happy Plants to add to the forage around the community farm apiary. I think she ordered them on-line.
It’s been a long day! Can I go to bed now?