Sadly, last year, the colony of bees at Swan Barn Farm died out. I was really upset about it at the time, we were never quite sure what had happened, but for some reason they rounded on and killed their own queen. This is really unusual behaviour, I wouldn’t even have realised what had happened if I hadn’t found the old queen’s body and observed the workers aggresive behaviour toward her, even after she was dead. We tried to rear a replacement queen, but for a variety of reasons it never worked out.

That was last year though…

This week it was time for the return of the bees to Swan Barn Farm. There is nothing so wonderful in life here as a day on which new livestock arrives. I will never get bored of it. It makes the place feel whole and complete, the place truly comes to life on days when new life arrives.

We have missed our bees.

It was a lovely sunny day on friday when I went to collect them. We had ordered 2 nucleus colonies (small new colonies that will need building up over the course of this summer). I have no doubt there was a big grin on my face as I drove them back from the bee breeders place.

The bees arrive

Lauren met me and helped me to move them onto their hive stands.

Pulling the plug

We put the roofs on, took out the bung and let them fly so that they could get used to their new home. These were the first few bees out of the door.

First bees out

Today the time was right to transfer the frames out of their travelling boxes and into their proper hives. We are using WBC hives, the design is a really nice one which fits in well at Swan Barn, but they are also unmistakably “bee hives”, a WBC says “bees” in a way that more modern designs of hive never quite manage to replicate.

It is such a pleasure to see them back, and to think of the polination services they are already providing for us and our neighbours.

On a not unrelated note… (I know I post on this most years!) I just thought I would share these photos of our fantastic orchids in Winding Meadow at Valewood on the edge of Black Down. If you get chance to go and have a look they are simply stunning this year, and this week they are at their absolute best.


It is a magical place, tens of thousands of orchids in one single field, the air heavy with the scent of an early summer hay meadow. Watch out, if you get chance to go and sit there and soak it all in it could very well overtake all of your senses.

Field of Orchids