Our 7.5 acre allotment site is already a haven for wildlife. We have insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals living on our site. Habitats include native hedgerows, a wildlife garden and pond as well as the river and the riverbanks. And we have created a hundred different habitats for them on our plots. We also have a lot of grass. We have grass paths, we have grass around buildings, along hedgerows and we have grass on our plots. Mostly we cut it so that it is neat and tidy.
These neatly mowed grassy areas could be little mini meadows. I’m not suggesting we give up cutting the main paths and lawns, but by mowing a bit less this spring and summer we could give clover, buttercups, dandelions and more a chance to flower for pollinators like bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths. This will bring more pollinators to our plots and may increase our harvests. And we can enjoy seeing which flowers emerge to add some natural joy and colour to our site!
So, over the next few months as we work out which areas are best to leave to grow wild you will see signs like this popping up around the site. If you can think of any potential Mini Nature Reserves, let the committee know.
Yes, it’s that time of year again – the Dorset Road Allotment’s Annual Open Day. Regular visitors will be pleased to know that as usual we will have our wonderful homemade cakes available (with a cup of tea), there will be a barbeque and plenty of plants for sale as well as other food and craft stalls. There will be bee demonstrations and dog agility displays.
Children will be able to play on the bouncy castle and there will be a range of other stalls and activities to keep them entertained including the free Treasure Hunt.
Telling the bees is a traditional British custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper’s life, such as births, marriages, departures and returns in the household. The bees were most commonly told of deaths in their master’s family, including of their master. If the custom was omitted or forgotten then it was believed a penalty would be paid; the bees might leave their hive, stop producing honey or die.
For a wedding the hive might be decorated and cake left by the hive. If the beekeeper died the hive would be draped in black and biscuits and wine from the funeral left for the bees.
Today I took part in telling the bees at Dorset Road Allotments that their master, our Chairman and Head Beekeper, Clive, had died. Following his funeral at Beckenham Crematorium, Clive’s bees were told the sad news. It was a moving ceremony attended by his family and many friends from the beekeeping community as well as the two allotments he worked so diligently for.
Clive will be missed by all who knew him. Our condolences go to his wife Barbara and their family.