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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher



Latest from blog

19 Jul 2022

I’ve looked after suckler cows and sheep, reared calves an...


19 Jul 2022




I’ve looked after suckler cows and sheep, reared calves and run an outside pig unit, always kept a few chicken and fed the birds, but never looked after bees. Liz Butcher entrusted the observation hive we have in the stable for children to my care while she was away.  All I had to do was top up a honey jar with holes in the lid with sugar syrup. But after a few days there was a build-up of dead bees blocking the entrance. It was Serena Watts our local bee impresario to the rescue.  She saved the colony including the queen, put a new swarm in and blamed it all on the season and not on me. The new bees had plenty of food available from comb and sugar syrup. The queen is clear to see as she lays her eggs.  The worker bees, the females, are extremely busy with some doing the famous waggle dance to show where the best food was to forage, and how far away. All are busy bringing food into the hive and capping the cone with wax.   A few feed the males, the drones, who sit around doing nothing apart from the major task of mating the queen.

Back from her holiday Liz had to rush down to her own hives as one had swarmed. It was all very dramatic.  The sight and sound of thousands of bees on the move, with children from Denefield School having front row seats in the show.  The swarm eventually settled in the branch of an oak tree overhanging Steve’s grass margin.  It is a beautiful sight: thousands of bees, a moving mobile mass protecting their new queen. We looked up and thought and thought and decided to go and have lunch.  Refreshed and invigorated and armed with a ladder, rope, two bee suits and a box we had a plan.  Joo, who could be relied on for safe operations and clear instructions, was in charge.  I, as an older person and expendable, was on the ladder.  Nigel held the rope and Liz was there with box ready to capture the bees.  And it went like a dream. The branch was cut off, extra bits trimmed, the bees were lowered into the box and transferred into a hive, including the queen. It was job done, and the satisfaction of achieving success.

But short lived! Liz phoned an hour later. They had swarmed and preferred the branch.   We sighed! They were still there the following morning but then disappeared to where, nobody knows?

John Bishop