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Spring Is Finally Here

Spring is most certainly here, finally! Just a few more weeks until we start moving our hives out to their spring sites! The bees are looking really strong and I’m glad to say we have only lost a very small percentage of them. Unfortunately, it seems many other beekeepers haven’t been as fortunate and based on early reports I’m expecting the national average of hives lost through winter to be higher than the past few.

The warm weather over the past week has really got the bees flying and many are collecting pollen from any early flowering plants such as Crocus, Snowdrops and Hellebores.  We have taken the mouse guards off now so the bees have easy access into the hive without brushing the pollen of them as they climb through.

The big job over the past week has been painting a new shed we have positioned on the farm ready for our beekeeping experiences. If you have a voucher for a beekeeping experience the dates have now been released – HERE. Direction to the farm will be sent out in your confirmation email, it’s only 2 minutes up the road from Planters Garden Centre.

We will also be using the space for our queen rearing course that we are running for more advanced beekeepers interested in producing their own queens. We only have a few spaces left on this course and we are only planning on running one this year so be sure to book on ASAP!

Looking ahead over the next two weeks we will go around checking the sites we will be moving bees to, making sure they are safe and suitable. It’s also a good chance to chat to the farmers and see how the crops are coming on. Before the end of the month all our hives will be in their spring sites and ready to collect plenty of nectar and pollen from the oil seed rape!


Gardening for bees!

Its very easy to get lulled into the garden on the first beautiful day, it’s as though the winter is over and the sun will shine for months to come. However very quickly colder temperatures reappear and we are back into Winter before we know it.  It’s the same for our bees, the first sign of sun and they’re out of the hive looking for pollen.   We can help them find it by incorporating some early spring flowers in our gardens.

Spring flowering bulbs are a great way to feed your bees.  Just like our Bees they appear when the sun is shining.   Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Snakes Head Fritillaria and Grape Hyacinths are some of the earliest Bee friendly plants and just after they’ve flowered is a great time to dig them up, split them and replant them.  That way guaranteeing even more for next year.

Complimenting the early bulbs at ground level are single flowered Hellebores (Christmas Rose), Primula or Primroses, Pulmonaria (with its pastel blue flowers), Ajuga (with its burgundy foliage and deep blue flowers) and Bergenia (with its bright green elephant ear leaves and pastel pink flowers).  All of these will die away (only to reappear next spring) allowing you to plant your summer plants around them.

Twisted Hazel catkins covered in our bees!

If you want something around a meter tall, there’s Rosemary, Ribes (or flowering current), Prunus Incisa Ko Jo Mai (Fuji Cherry, masses of Pale Pink flowers), Hazel for its catkins, single Rhododendrons, Pussy Willows, Mahonia (Yellow) and Berberis Darwini (bright orange).   The latter two are great for security because of their prickly leaves.

Finally, if you want a tree look out for early flowering Almonds, crab apples and pears.

If all that sounds like a lot of work leave the dandelions until at least they’ve flowered and allow Comfrey to run riot.  Comfrey also makes a great liquid food.  Simply cut the leaves (after flowering) and allow to soak for days (even weeks) in water. 


Thank you as ever for reading our blog, your support means a lot to us. I hope as things start to open up you will be able to come and see us at more markets and events. This month our only market will be at Market Bosworth on Sunday 28th March however online orders and click and collect are still available!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary

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Bee Merry! Christmas is nearly here

Christmas is nearly here! Now only another 3 weeks until Christmas and we are busy sending orders out and getting any pre ordered hampers ready to deliver. We have also decided to expand the blog slightly so sometimes we will have a piece on plants for bees and others a recipe for you to try using our honey! This month you get both!

We were lucky that even with the lockdown we were able to attend Market Bosworth Farmers Market which was really well attended and well supported which makes a massive difference to small businesses. Looking forward we are waiting to have some guidance on what Tier 3 means for our December markets, as soon as we know we will post it on our Facebook page.

We have spent the last month working on getting ready for next season. The hives are now all ready for winter and other than lifting them every few weeks to check they have enough food we now just have to leave them to it. It seems strange after looking after and checking them weekly for much of the season that we can now step back and be confident that we did all we could to help our bees get through winter.

This past week we received a load of wood which will go to make 120 brood boxes. A big job cutting it down and assembling the boxes but one that will mean we can expand significantly next season. We are hoping to get to around 150 hives next year which we think is easily do-able without impacting our honey crop too much!

Recip-bee of the month!

Our festive honey has also proved to be very popular, enough that we have just finished jarring a second batch so there is plenty to get us through until Christmas! If you are thinking about ways you can use our festive honey why not try Emma’s Recipe for a festive honey biscuit, adapted from BBC Good Food

To Make 20 cookies you need:

  • 100g Soft Butter
  • 100g Sugar
  • 1 large tablespoon of Festive Spiced Honey
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 level teaspoon of Mixed Spice
  • 180g Self Raising Flour

Fancy trying this great recip-bee? Add Festive honey
to your shopping basket – Here

The Method:

  • STEP 1 – Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy.
  • STEP 2 – Next beat in the Festive Spiced honey and the egg yolk.
  • STEP 3 – Add the mixed spice and flour, mix into soft dough.
  • STEP 4 – Take a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball.
  • STEP 5 – Then do the same to the other cookies.
  • STEP 6 – Space out on a greased baking tray, as they will spread.
  • STEP 7 – Cook for 10 minutes at 175C.
  • STEP 8 – Best enjoyed with a cup of tea!


Gardening For Bees!

For those of you looking to receive or give a Bee friendly gift this Christmas there’s nothing better than a winter flowering garden plant.   On warm sunny winter days Bees will venture out of the hive and what better way of making that journey worth while than making pollen available to them.

Winter flowering plants not only help save bees but also brighten up our gardens not just with colourful flowers but scent too. Helebores or Christmas roses, especially the simple single ones provide great colour for the front of a border.   You could create a feast for bees by interplanting with Crocus, snowdrops and Winter Aconites. 

Although most Garden Centres will be sold out of bulbs by now, they normally get potted bulbs around Christmas time for instant colour.  If you already successfully grow Rhododendrons and Camellias why not try underplanting with Winter Heathers for a carpet of colour. Putting flowers at the height bees fly at saves them energy ensuring they get back to the hive safely. 

Try Mahonia Charity or some of its relations to produce a big display of bright yellow flowers and plant Sarcococca for a mass of little flowers whose perfume punches well above its flower size.

Lastly try clothing your walls and trellis with Winter flowering Clematis (Cirrhosa), Ivy that you can avoid cutting so it flowers and winter Honeysuckle.

Winter Honey Suckle – Photo Credit Gardina

Written by
Gerald Ingram, Planters Garden Centre


Thank you for reading our monthly blog, hopefully you’ve enjoyed our new articles and we would love to see photos of your baking or bee plants! Send them to us on facebook, Instagram or by email as we might just show them in next months post!

Matthew Ingram
Holt Hall Apiary


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