I have reinstated my Gardening for Bees and Wildlife course as it is a great time to think about planting for next year, and get some good habitats in place before the weather sets in for the winter. It is becoming increasingly clear that our apiaries, gardens, and public spaces are not just a valuable contribution to insect life, but one that is essential if we are to prevent further decline of these vital elements of the food chain.
This report highlights how hives of honey bees, far from being the conservation heroes, are in fact depleting local resources for native pollinators. This means we have a dual responsibility: to provide for and protect our native pollinators, as well as those of us who do keep bees ensuring our hives have more than enough natural forage so that there is less competition with the locals.
It’s not just pollinators that need our help. Insects of all shapes and sizes are rapidly declining in number and this in turn affects the rest of the food chain – and lest we forget, that includes us.
So, what to do? I like to think that as a beekeeper I am well-placed to nurture insect life, and as my bees forage within 3 miles of their hive, it is important to me that the surroundings are diverse in nectar and pollen. This means we beekeepers rely on a large area (over which we have little or no control) to be low in toxins and rich in resources.
On this course, it’s about maximising those resources to benefit not only honey bees, but other species too. Insects form a significant part of many larger creatures’ diets, so if we want to continue to see birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in our daily lives, we need to conserve insects.
Gardening for Bees and Wildlife draws on both my knowledge as a beekeeper as well as my long-standing interest in farming, wildlife, and ecology. We work through different sections so you will be not only informed, but prepared to go back to your outdoor space and make it the best example it can be for insects. Honey bees are more efficient foragers and pollinators if they have other species to work with, so increasing the amount we provide will encourage good health and prosperity for our colonies.
We start with a look at the 5 key factors to encourage insect proliferation:
- Diverse habitat
- Balanced ecosystem
and go on to discuss how to establish and enhance each of these in your outdoor space. This is a theory course but with practical aspects, and there will be time to discuss individual circumstances, and any potential problems. For beekeepers, we can discuss beneficial apiary management to help both honey bees and other species – something that is simply not taught on regular beekeeping or gardening courses, yet is vital for the future.
We stop for tea and cake halfway through, and I have arranged the room in a socially-distanced manner (see main Courses page for Covid measures) so we can be relaxed during the afternoon. I can have a maximum of four people and two households, but am happy to run the course for just one person!
I really hope to start a new narrative regarding “Help the Bees” which encompasses restoring hedgerows; nurturing our mature trees; no-mowing becoming the norm; a relaxed attitude to flies, spiders, wasps, moths, and lawn grubs; weeds welcomed, and a bit of messiness tolerated. We have all had the opportunity to appreciate and evaluate what we have in our homes and immediate surroundings during lockdown, and thinking about what goes on in the safari on our doorstep can be a tremendous help for both the insects and ourselves.
Please contact me if you would like to book a place. I have the following dates available:
- 24th October
- 14th November
- 28th November
and for next year:
- 30th January
- 27th February
- 13th March
- 27th March
- 10th April
- 8th May
- 19th June
- 10th July
- 11th September
- 9th October
The course costs £60 per person, or £100 for two booking at the same time. Price includes information and worksheets, and a pack of pollinator-plant seeds or bulbs. You are welcome to bring photos and information about your outdoor space for tailored advice. The course makes an excellent gift for someone who is interested in gardening, or wants to help bees in a practical way. It is also suitable for beekeepers looking to increase the diversity of their apiary and surrounds to promote good health and foraging behaviour in their colonies.
Gift vouchers are available from me, or via the Craftcourses platform.