With the blossoms bursting and the warm weather balming our days, look out for the humble bees. They are essential to life as we know it and much of the food that we grow here would not be possible without our most vital pollinators.
Here are six things you might not know about bees:
- Bees have been producing honey in the same way for over 150 million years, and the first record of people keeping bees was in Spain about 6000BC
- A hive needs 20-30lbs of honey to survive an average winter, but the bees are capable of collecting up to 60lbs, given the space – which is what beekeepers encourage.
- Honeybees have five eyes in the centre of their head: two large compound eyes and three smaller ocelli eyes. They can see in colour and are sensitive more to the blue end of the light spectrum and into ultraviolet. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultraviolet light and will appear very bright to a bee.
- The type of honey made by the bees changes according to the type of foliage and flowers available to the bees in the area near their hives. Honey can be hard-set, clear and liquid or have a jelly consistency depending on the crops that have been pollinated.
- Bees will fly up to three miles from their hives to collect pollen from hedgerows, fruit trees and wildflowers.
- A honeybee only stings under two conditions: to protect the colony or when frightened.
Winter is departing and spring magic is in the air. These are some signs that you should look out for when you come to visit or stay with us in the Essex countryside.
Birdsong: The Great Tit
From the start of warmer days in February, great tits tentatively sound out mates and neighbours with a clear two note call: tee-cher, tee-cher, tee-cher.
It’s a spirited, hopeful call that grows stronger in March until late April as the bird leaves the stage to feed its first brood of young. In its place, other species, especially woodland birds such as willow warblers and chiffchaffs, fill the airwaves alongside native blackbirds, songthrushes and robins.
Emerging animals: The March Hare
The new growth of grasses, herbs and wildflowers is a huge boost for hares in spring.
They do not hibernate so, being large and active mammals, they need a constant supply of food throughout the year which is something that only habitats rich in native flora can provide.
As these habitats become rarer, so have hares. But now is one of the best times to see them, before the vegetation has grown high enough to hide them.
Hedgerow blossoms: White flowers of Blackthorn
These tiny frosty white flowers cover the hedgerows from early March and are an important early source of nectar for bees and other insects.
As the insects forage, they pollinate the flowers and by autumn these will have developed into sloes.
The blackthorn fiercely protects its wares with sharp spines up to 3 cm long. Blackthorn leaves are feasted on through the summer by a number of butterfly and moth caterpillars, including black and brown hairstreaks.
Amanda: 07850 870237
Monday - Friday
9am - 5pm
Louise: 07917 592 310
Monday - Friday
9am - 5pm
By road & rail
An elegant building in historic surroundings, situated within a one acre private walled garden and tucked away in a quiet, rural location in north Essex.
The Orangery is a versatile building suitable for professional, private and creative gatherings.
The walls between the three South facing terrace galleries can be removed to provide a single larger space. We work with you to adapt The Orangery to your needs.
HOW MANY GUESTS?
Welcome up to;
- 60 guests seated at round tables
- 60 guests in a conference or concert style
- 90 for cocktails and finger buffet
Additional seated space on the Long Terrace in the Walled Garden.
The Orangery offers a wonderful atmosphere for daytime events from wedding celebrations to children themed parties; company presentations to team building events; and outside concerts and evening talks to exhibitions.