Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Around the Farm

It’s the 1st of June and we have just planted two acres of “pollen & nectar mix.”  At Church Farm our logo is a bee. Bees need all the help they can get so we have planted…

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Red cloverbee clover
Alsike clover
Phalecia
Sweet Bottom Clover
Sainfoin
Birdsfoot trefoil
Lesser Knapweed
Musk Mallow

 

 

 

Strawberry season has begun. You might have received strawberries in your farm box, already, and some have been available in the shop.  The early crop is  being harvested and there will be more to come.

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Little Farmer birthday parties are great fun!  The Little Farmer Birthday Party package can include a tractor and trailer ride, or egg collecting. Woodland wild parties and little farmers bespoke parties can be arranged.  Our Wild Party packages are perfect if you love the great outdoors and you want to have a completely different kind of party.

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Don’t miss a thing:

Church Farm Website

Church Farm Blog

Church Farm Store

Rural Care Blog

 

 

 

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Dr Finlay’s Walking Stick: Fin helps save the Bees

Fin’s Twenty Seventh Adventure

Lorraine helps save Dr Finlay

May 27th 2017

National Walking Month

Adventures come and go and sometimes we search for them and sometimes they search for us.

Today’s adventure was all about escape.  Dr Finlay wanted to escape, Fin wanted to escape and so they went for a walk together with Fin’s twin who it turned out was called Fiona.

She was taller than Fin with much less bark and rather vulnerable so Fin and Dr Finlay would try and take good care of her along with their friend Lorraine who was an expert at taking care of people.

They met Lorraine at the start of their walk and she joined them and held Fiona while Fin stayed in the gentle hands of Dr Finlay.

Dr Finlay wanted to show Fin and Fiona and Lorraine The Place Where Time Stands Still and so they made their way to Vicars Orchard.

Wandering around the orchard they headed for the bee hives and ….

Oh my goodness what is that hanging from the tree!!!!!!!

Maybe a whole swarm had made a getaway escaping with the Queen to pastures new leaving a smaller group hanging on for dear life on an apple tree close to the hive they had escaped from.

Bees are precious things and there was no time to waste they needed the Bee Emergency Services Team or BEST.

BEST was so brilliant he was already on the way and they met him at the gate of the orchard in the BEST Mobile.

Fin and Fiona, Dr Finlay and Lorraine explained the situation and watched him guide the BEST Mobile towards the hives.  The slogan on the BEST Mobile was very clever:- BEE The BEST that you can BEE.

Euan (The BEST Chief Executive Officer) donned his protective clothing and set about saving the bees and the others watched on in awe at the way man and nature tried to work with each other and how freedom was so cherished by all.

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When will we be free?

Dr Finlay made a note to remind Fin to read up about Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and William Wilberforce in case they didn’t have time before Doomsday which was now only a few days away.

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Fin watches on as BEEMAN completes the recapture of the escaping bees.

Fiona, Dr Finlay and Lorraine were all keeping a safe distance as they would have been vulnerable to the sting of the Killer Queen.

 

Tomorrow as they say was to bee another day.

—Dr Finlay
May 27th 2017

 

 


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Bee Stings

Chicken Dave experienced a rite of passage which most would choose to avoid.  Dave had volunteered to help beekeeper Euan replace the pallets the beehives sit on in the orchard apiary.  It is a job for spring when the winter honey stores have run low and the hives are lightest in weight.  It is a job best done on a cool evening when the bees are not buzzing.  Instead, Euan chose a beautiful spring evening and the bees were inquisitive!  It cost Dave his first ever bee sting – times 2 in fact.  Everyone seems to love bees these days except perhaps when contact is too close for comfort – stings do hurt.  Euan accepts 2 or 3 stings a year as occupational hazard (but could probably exercise more caution and avoid even those).

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What to know about bee (and wasp stings): 

  • Worker-bee stings have barbs, which means they stay in the skin with the venom-sac attached, still pulsing venom.
  • A bee that stings leaves behind parts of its innards and will die soon after.
  • Stings should be scraped out with a finger nail. Pulling out the sting squeezes the entire content of the venom-sac into the skin.
  • Queen-bee stings aren’t barbed but are only ever used against other queen bees.
  • Male-drone bees are stingless.
  • Wasp stings aren’t barbed and one wasp can sting multiple times (but with decreasing venom impact).
  • Bee stings are acid and should be treated with an alkali, such as baking powder.
  • Wasp stings are alkali and should be treated with an acid, such as vinegar.
  • Proprietary treatment creams and sprays work better than homespun remedies.
  • Swelling and itching from stings lasts for 2 or 3 days but there is considerable person-to-person variation in the severity of reaction.
  • People who react severely to bee stings can be desensitised by administration of tiny quantities of bee venom over a series of injections (by qualified medical practitioners).

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When might bees sting?

  • Move slowly near bees (or wasps). Flapping arms will panic insects.
  • Don’t stand in the flight path of bees into and out of the hive.
  • Don’t wear strong perfumes near bees.
  • A bee caught in hair will panic and sting. A pre-emptive first strike to kill the bee is sensible, as a stinging bee will die anyway.
  • If one or two bees show too much interest then walk away slowly and stand in the shade until they lose interest.
  • Don’t run from bees. Bees can fly faster than Usain Bolt can run.
  • Bees get bad tempered when atmospheric pressure changes before a storm.
  • Bees see a different light spectrum and there is some suggestion that deep blue coloured clothing upsets them.
  • Working a single field crop (such as oilseed rape) can result in bees being less calm.
  • Bee colonies that are without a queen are more aggressive.
  • Older worker bees can be more tetchy than young bees.
  • Bees struggle to sting if they have a full stomach. Beekeepers smoke bees to encourage them to feed, in readiness to flee a fire.

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It is perhaps foolish to focus a news item on bee stings when we need to embrace these fantastic, beneficial insects and besides it has been suggested that bee stings are beneficial in preventing arthritis.  Don’t let the very small chance of a sting put you off the joy bees.  It hasn’t put Dave off.  If you see him around the farm tell him he has been very brave!

Euan Brierley

 

 


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The Birds and the Bees

Last month, Red Kites, this month, Honey Bees. The variety of the life around us on the farm both human and otherwise can be staggering.

In a colony of bees you may have thousands of these insects taking up their roles in keeping their species going.

  • The Queen Bee, who will spend a lot of time laying a lot of eggs
  • The drone, a lazy, good-for-only-one-thing male
  • The worker, an astonishingly hard working, sterile and short-lived female

Local beekeeper since the age of eleven, Euan Brierley, informed us of some of the facts surrounding these tiny creatures in the midst of Vicar’s Orchard at the end of June.  It turns out that the location is entirely suitable as the inventor of the modern beehive structure most widely used was Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth who patented his design in 1852.  The dimensions of the hives were based on champagne boxes which of course most Vicars will have lying about somewhere!!!

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Euan with eager intern Tyler and a lot of bees

 

Bees will fly a couple of miles to check out the local environment for their food, and Ardeley is happily filled with gardens of bee friendly flowers.  Euan tells of his own adventures with his father driving up to the North of England with hives in the back of the car in search of nectar and to help pollinate local flora.

We looked inside the hives, both British Standard and Top Bar varieties, one more geared to man’s needs than those of the bees.  Questions rained in about royal jelly, colony level decision making and levels of honey production, beeswax and waterproofing, sugar syrup and organic bee keeping, as well as pollen types and honey intoxication!

 

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Istvan examining Emma’s Top Bar Hive

 

Euan has avoided the dreaded varoa mite amongst his bees for over four years, and puts it down to only taking what is reasonable, rather than replacing honey with sugar syrup when harvesting the crop.

Many thanks to Euan for his willingness to share his learning and his bees, to Darren for organising our introduction to bees, and Emma for helping to support and extend the farm’s involvement with them.  Also to the interested interns and volunteers who resemble the hard working, worker bees and managed to fit in a class after the usual demands of a day on the farm.

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Darren, Euan, Su, Eva, Tyler, Andy, Amber, Istvan and Viv and some bees!

 

N.B. When the time comes for that talk about the Birds and the Bees it is really a very difficult and rather terrifying example, for a male at least, of the consequences of copulation! As the Queen flies high into the air, to tempt the strongest drone, his success is rewarded by being emasculated on decoupling!

—Chicken Dave