Bees, and Reptiles

The bees in the Warré hive at theWest Rise School Apiary at Langney Marsh have done extremely well, considering they got through the winter in one box, and have had no supplementary feeding. Paul noticed that they had filled the previously unoccupied lower box so a new addition was needed urgently! This has taken us rather by surprise so we had to use one of my newly painted boxes in the absence of a spare; we have sent the Warré plans to Oscar and his team at The Shed and are hoping for some speedy results…

Warrés are nadired rather than supered, in that new boxes are added underneath as opposed to on top, as would happen with a standard frame hive. So, lift up the top two boxes and put the new box into place. We also removed the improvised quilt we had borrowed from another hive to use as a super back last autumn:

The bees were a bit confused to start with and weren’t quite sure of the painted section, but after a few minutes of pheromone-fanning at the entrance, they quickly reoriented:

Another reason for us to visit the site was to discuss expanding the area of no grazing that we have in the apiary enclosure to encompass a much larger area for the benefit of reptiles with Kim, an ecologist working with the council. Development for building requires the removal of our native species from the area, and these dispossessed reptiles need a safe spot for their relocation. The short grass at the Marsh, courtesy of the sheep and water buffalo, is not great for lizards, slowworms and grass snakes as it does not provide any cover from the predatory kestrels, corvids, and herons that also call the Marsh home. The tussocks and nettle banks within the apiary are much preferred, and there are plenty of interesting materials such as old fenceposts, breeze blocks and metal sheeting that can be used to provide basking areas and hibernacula for these animals, once the grazing stock have been fenced off. This plan ties in beautifully with our desire to allow more flowering plants to flourish, and will also mean we can ensure the hedging packs which will be arriving in the autumn can be set around the perimeter of this extension, increasing the diversity of the habitat which will benefit all the species we have on site.

This is an exciting new direction for the project and we look forward to seeing the positive feedback that these new inputs have to the Marsh.

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