Pertwood farm visit, 13th August 2016


view across Pertwood fields

Eight of the ONBG headed to Wiltshire to visit the first tree hive to be setup in the UK. This is at Pertwood farm, a source of excellent muesli.

Lower Pertwood Farm is a 2,100 acre farm that has been organic for nearly 30 years. They are active in supporting the wildlife on the farm and have seen red listed birds increase in number as a result. Active example: in early spring they are distributing 2 tons of bird feed a week. This greatly benefits the corn bunting, linnets and yellowhammers. More details on the back of a pack of their (great) muesli or here. Their sympathetic farming methods result in large areas of the farm being virtually untouched by humans.

We joined about 30 other bee enthusiasts plus Jonathan Powell, Nick Adams, Pertwood’s wildlife specialist and Chris who seemed to know everything about the farm itself. Continue reading

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ONBG meeting & apiary visit, 30th July 2016

Gareth's ApiaryOn a lovely calm day at the end of July, 20 of us gathered at Gareth’s place in West Oxfordshire to share a meal and see a large happy apiary. Gareth has not treated his hives for ~5+ years now and the bees are thriving; and following his extremely calm and low-interventionist  approach, the bees too are calm and protective gear was totally unnecessary, even on opening the hives.

Gareth is a founder and trustee of the Natural Beekeeping Trust and has 45 years’ experience keeping bees. He makes his own hives and has been evaluating novel variations on old favourites, inspired by research around the world. We were able to inspect some of these hives, talk over apiary management practices, and share our experiences. Continue reading

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West Oxford Bee Festival, 18 June 2016

Frideswide West Oxford Bee Festival June 2016 - stallOn 18th June I went to St Frideswide’s church to represent ONBG and help with the bee festival. I’d heard about it through a friend and I owed the vicar a favour so thought I ought to help.

Fortunately, Paul had lent me plenty of kit the day before otherwise I would have had very little to share with them. I set up my table, under the gazebo provided, and I was busy from the beginning. Continue reading

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Spreading the Bee Buzz #8 – Apis, Bombus, and many more

The latest in our series on beekeeping for a village magazine – written for non-beekeepers, and to suit the broad range of ages and knowledge among the readers.

The poor spring seems to have both delayed and reduced the number of swarms this year but, after a bit of scrambling after them up trees, my hives are now all populated and I’m able to observe the new colonies building up. The two large ‘prime’ swarms I caught had good numbers and a fertile queen, so have progressed quickly, building lots of comb and raising young bees. I also have two smaller afterswarms or ‘casts’, these are less developed as they start off with smaller numbers and a new virgin queen that needs to be mated – with fewer numbers they must work a finer balance of the competing demands of feeding themselves, guarding the hive, and raising young. However, once the new queen is successfully mated, the casts should build up well given time and good foraging. Continue reading

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ONBG visit to Rosybee Nurseries, 25th June 2016

Plants fascinate both humans and bees at Rosybee

Plants fascinate both humans and bees at Rosybee

On a typical English summers day (a bit wet) 24 of us converged on Rosybee Nurseries in south Oxfordshire to learn about their research on bee-friendly plants from proprietor – and beekeeper – Rosi Rollings. Her work covers aspects not normally considered by beekeepers and we left feeling considerably wiser than when we arrived! Continue reading

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My first fortnight of beekeeping (and the two-swarm, one-hive mystery)

I had only half-believed that it was possible to attract a swarm. I knew about it in theory, but it just seemed so unlikely that a swarm of bees, with a whole world of hollow-trees and unsealed roof-spaces to call home, would choose to settle in a hive. But in one week two swarms found their way to my garden, and (against everything it says in the books) took up residence in the same hive.

Continue reading

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West Oxford Bee Festival – 18th June 2016

Frideswide West Oxford Bee Festival June 2016

Come and visit the ONBG stand

at the West Oxford Bee Festival

St Frideswide church & grounds,

Botley Road, OX2 0BL


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