We are now home to two new Bee Hives. Each holds 20,000 bees but they’ll happily squeeze more in if there’s plenty of food. Beekeeper Terry tells us they’re as close as possible to the old English Black Bee, which means they’ll be perfectly at home here in the Ullswater Valley.
The Black Bee has been around since the last ice age, she’s perfectly adapted to fly in wet and cool conditions, and is happily at home amongst mountains – we’re told they’ll fly 3 miles and can manage thousands of feet of ascent. It’s a match made in heaven. More importantly, she’s seasonally aware and can eke out food, though Terry will be giving them a helping hand with sugar solutions and a sugar block in the coldest weather, Cumbria can make minus 10 degrees regularly in winter, (but as a bonus the cold kills off their predatory viruses). They’re good strong bees capable of sustaining themselves in the wild – especially our wilds, plus they’re productive and good-tempered when kept in hives. That’s good to know as they now live at the end of our walled garden, between the glass-houses and the new orchard.
We’ll be considering our garden planting - extra to our wild lakeshore which is perfect for them with its profusion of wildflowers. The nearby fells are thick with Gorse and Heather, and the rare Grass of Parnassus which drips nectar off its exotic looking waxy stamens. A handy refreshment stop for a tired bee. They like tree pollen too – so they’ll pollinate hazel trees to produce more fruit for the red squirrels. The eco system around Ullswater is a little bit richer for having them here.