Today, we had planned to visit our bees on the Moors and check on their progress. To make the most of the journey, we'd also planned to have a picnic with a typical Ploughman's Lunch - cider, bread, cheese, crisps, pate, pork pie, tomatoes etc and on the return journey, we'd planned to visit Lavender Fields and see what all the fuss is about.
The journey to Bransdale was pleasant and uneventful and it took us 1 hour 40 mins to make the 52 mile trip. But it's worth it as the moors were absolutely deserted except for us and the bees.
Despite the lack of sunshine, the bees were still busy foraging.
Having had a quick look inside the hives to check that they were getting on with their jobs ok, we thought it to be a good idea to set up our picnic nearby. It was then that it decided to rain so a quick scramble to sling everything in the back of the pickup. It was at that point that Lesley got stung so an even more frantic scramble to get inside the car! I think the returning bees were a bit tetchy about the weather and we seemed to be right on the their flight path so were starting to get short thrift from them.
We wanted to picnic about 20 yards behind the pick up - no chance!
And so it was off to find somewhere a little calmer for our picnic. Still of intrigue to us is the 14 hives that have appeared some 800 yards away from us. They cannot see us from their position and will have no idea where we are on the same moor. You can see the landowners farm in the background but he says he doesn't know who the hives belong to.
Some of the 14 hives on the moors with Richard Watson's farm in the background
Having found somewhere nearby to relax and eat, we made our way back and called in at Lavender Fields as it was not out of our way. By now, the sun was making the odd brief appearance and the lavender certainly looked better for it. The strange thing is, they have the ubiquitous shop on the premises that sells literally everything lavender - including ice cream! But not a jar of honey in sight anywhere! How absolutely bizarre with lavender honey commanding a premium price! I can only guess this must be for safety reasons as the lavender fields have lots of roaming visitors taking in the sights and smells. Click the image below to visit their website.
For next year, we've identified a good stance for the Bell heather that the landowner has already given up permission to use. So we may take up a colony or two in June to take advantage of the earlier blooms of Bell heather. As the Bell dies away, the lighter coloured Ling starts to show through and usually flowers from late July until early in September. So we'd move our bees into their 2nd position for the Ling. That would give us the very best of both types of heather honey on the Yorkshire Moors!
After the Ling, there is nothing for the bees to forage on so they must be brought back home otherwise they will starve to death.
On our next visit, we'll be taking pictures of the heather honey in the supers - that is assuming the weather is favourable for the bees ... (fingers crossed!)