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Top-Bar Beehive

We’re all a-buzz about bees!

Recent studies have shown a dramatic drop in our native wild bees – both solitary and social species due to habitat loss, agricultural practices and pesticide use.

So how are we helping?

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We have planted over 2000 tree-whips to create new woodland areas and hedgerows that will produce nectar bearing flowers for all pollinators in and around our site.

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In 2017 a new perennial wildflower space was created which will require little ‘help’ from us to maintain and produces a wide variety of flowers from early Spring through to late Autumn.

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Every year the space between the car park and the Kingfisher Barn is sown with annual wildflower seeds to add to the mix, giving a wide range of plant species to help our local pollinators.

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In addition to all this, to help our solitary bees the rangers have put up several bee hotels in and around the wildlife garden and run events each year for people to come and build their own bee hotel, increasing breeding sites for these particular bees.

So what’s new for 2019?

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The most recent and ambitious project began with a thought to introduce a living beehive onto our site using a more natural top-bar beehive set up.

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After much careful planning and preparation, our rangers headed off to collect the bees and their new queen – a 6-hour car journey – the return being with an extra 10,000 passengers!

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Once back on site, the hive was introduced to their new home and set up with the queen safely inside.

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Initially the bees would require food (sugar water) from us for the first month or so, giving them the chance to make their combs, begin storing honey and the queen to begin laying her workers.

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Once the hive was established human interference would be minimal and rare. A camera will be fitted to the entrance, live feeding the bees activity into the Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre so visitors can see what they are up to.

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After just a few months, the original bees that came with the queen will have died, having served their purpose in helping to build the combs, raise the new workers and collect nectar. The next generation of workers will truly be ‘wild’ bees and we hope the colony will go on living in this hive for many years – the queen may live up to 6 years, unlike her workers and drones.

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