You may have spotted that we have buzzy new additions to our Heron Farm family. We have new hives and as a result, a new apiary, in our vineyard, being looked after for us by a lovely local, expert bee-keeper called Steve.
You may know that most grape vines are propagated from cuttings, and most cultivated grapes are hermaphroditic.
Bees Don’t Do It
If the bee’s don’t fertilise our grapes or our vines, why do we have new hives and a pro beekeeper looking after our hives, and apiary and why is it so important to us here at Heron Farm to look after our bees?
It’s because the overall health of our walled gardens, small farm and kitchen garden depends on it. Much of an area’s agricultural health depends on nitrogen balance. Bees are the primary pollinators for plants that both deplete (often grasses) and balance nitrogen, all of which seem to aid in the natural replenishment of other important soil nutrients.
Being on our vineyard land, in and around our veggies and bee-friendly gardens allows the bees to be in areas with abundant sources of pollen providing high-quality, natural nutrition sources for the bees. But for our vineyard health, bees do much more than pollinate cover crops. They also help other insects feel safe.
Bees are also pollinators for insectaries. An insectary is a grouping of plants that are often planted around vineyard blocks – or in our case in and around our kitchen and walled gardens. Here at Heron you’ll also find patches of nettles, dandelions doing their thing and places where we leave the hedgerows to grow wild & free and leave nature do what nature intended. This is not without purpose.
The bees help these flowers and ‘weeds’ succeed, which in turn draws beneficial predators such as lady beetles, green lacewings, soldier beetles and Anagyrus (a parasitic wasp for the vine mealybug).
These are all general predators of vineyard pests, and their safe and happy presence means that we have to intervene less because nature is doing it for us. Lots of bees are thus a good sign that you have a healthy vineyard with a diverse ecosystem.
The new bees will be very influential on our farm and in our garden, helping to pollinate our nut & fruit trees and other blossoms. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
We give them a healthy home and we hope later this year, they will give us Heron Farm Honey!