Paul and I took a trip to see the hives at West Rise’s Bee Sanctuary on Langney Marsh as we had heard that there had been activity seen at one of them. We weren’t sure what to expect, and presumed it was wasps, as the hives have been empty since the winter of 2020-21. We called in at Wilderness Wood first as Paul wanted to collect some chestnut-offcut plant labels from the hurdle workshop there, so we picked up those and headed over to Eastbourne.
It was absolutely beautiful down at the Marsh, although extremely soggy underfoot. We walked the long way round past the birdwatchers (Penduline Tits have been seen in the reedbeds here recently) and wound our way over to the Bee Sanctuary.
The willows have grown up so much since we planted them; I say ‘planted’ but we simply lopped a few branches off and stuck them in the ground. Both hives looked quiet, when suddenly Paul remarked that someone had just flown in to the Warré. I put on my bee jacket and went over the tussocks and standing water to see more closely.
Sure enough, a few bees were flying. I removed the observation board from the back of the box (apologies to the numerous woodlice I disturbed!!) and saw a little activity but a lot of propolis. I have no idea if there is much honey in that box but we shall see if they survive the winter. The boxes have been dislodged slightly so there is a gap between the bottom box and the base, but presumably the bees will deal with that as they see fit.
We had a look at the rest of the apiary site and discovered that all our black poplars had long since died, but there was a magnificent tree mallow. The other willows were doing really well too, so it will be interesting to see how the flora and fauna develop in that little patch of Marsh as the shrubby trees invite some sheltered conditions, as well as food by way of leaves and nectar.
I made a short video of our visit, which you can watch here: