During this last season rosybee has evolved from a pilot operation to a small but thriving business. I am sure that all the publicity surrounding neonicotinoids helped to bring the plight of bees and other pollinators to the attention of a wider audience and probably helped to boost sales. I continue to be very gratified by the number or clients who want to engage on what plants will work best for bees in their gardens and who even send photos to show the plants they have purchased once they are established.
We added slightly to our plant range and also continued our research to see what else we can find that really works both for the garden and the bees. One of the years highlights was attending a workshop at the Laboritory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at Sussex University Read more →
This was our 4th year as beekeepers and, although we still have lots to learn, we are beginning to feel more confident and able to take action without having to check the books all the time. In other words, we have a bit of experience now and its getting easier.
This was also our best year in many other ways:
* most honey – 350 jars from our 6 hives
* least number or lost swarms (we had 3 but caught them all)
Our only real problem this year was wasps which where so prolific that they caused one hive to dwindle to a non-viable scale. We started the year with 3 hives and ended with 5 – having merged two after the wasp attacks- and now they are all fed and shut up for winter with the mouse guards on.
Normally I miss the regular hive visits during winter and worry how they are doing but this year I feel quite happy to have the time for other activities and am a bit more certain the bees are fine.
The objective of this trial is to assess effectiveness of a range of commercially available seed mixes that are marketed as being good for bees. 2012 was the first year of this trial when we cleared over an acre of ground in our site and sowed 5 different seed mixes:
1. an 80% grass, 20% wildflower commercial mix to the DEFRA specification advised for field margin Environment Scheme
2. a ‘bumblebee’ mix of 100% flowers including borage and phacelia
3. a more expensive 30% wildflower mix with a much wider range of perennial wildflowers
4. a mix that is widely used and recommended in France
5. a ‘nectar and pollen’ 100% legume mix with lots of clovers – this was planted on a different and poorer soil to the others
Over the winter of 2012 and into 2013, we left the trial plots alone as the marketing information for most of them indicates that they should provide flower for 3 years. The exception to this was number 4, the ‘French mix’ which is purely annual and comes with instruction to clear and reseed each year. As we did not have access to a replacement seed batch we instead, collected as much seed as possible from the flowers and added both cornflowers and phacelia to approximate the original mix.
Our observations for 2013 are as follows: Read more →
Asters, autumn daisies in a wide range of colours from white, through all shades of pink and purple. Almost every garden has them and I know some gardens where they almost grow as weeds. They flower really late and give a strong splash of colour in September when most other flowers are beginning fade. They will tolerate light shade and bright sun and are relatively trouble free; what more could you want in an autumn flower.
Right now (mid September) my asters are the top plant attracting not only bees but a wide range of hoverflies too. I grow, and sell, Aster Amellus (pictured) as its a species plant which tend to be more reliable nectar sources than anything that has been over-bred. Having said that, bees seem to like all the simple, open style of asters so you just need to avoid anything with frilly or with ‘double’ petals.