Thoughts from category: nature

a buzzy saturday afternoon

On Saturday, I went along to Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire to meet our bee competition winner Julian, Tim the beekeeper and Neil the Head Gardener for an afternoon of bees, bees and more bees.

Hanbury 2

Julian, Neil and Tim

We had a tour of the beautiful gardens and grounds from Neil (including the mushroom house) and then Tim gave us an introduction to bee keeping.


Bee lesson


Tim has 8 hives at Hanbury Hall which this year yielded 250 jars of honey. He taught us how to hold a frame, how a hive works and how to mark a queen bee when you spot her.

Bee pens

Then it was on with the bee suits

Bee suit

Bee man

Julian got to wear the suit as paid for by the proceeds of Buy One Get One Bee whilst I had to wear a suit for a 10 year old as there were no adult bee suits left.

Bees knees

Once suited, we then got to inspect the innocent hive and meet some bees.

Bee time


The innocent hive

After meeting the bees and asking more home beekeeping questions, we all got given a jar of Tim's honey

Yummy honey


And then Julian and his wife, Nicky went off for a proper afternoon tea (though sadly the chocolate potato cake had sold out).


We've made a little film of the day (including Tim answering lots of your questions) so watch this space for the official premiere.

For now though, massive thanks to Tim, Neil and the catering staff at Hanbury Hall for such a brilliant afternoon, to Julian and Nicky for being such enthusiastic winners and to my mum for being an excellent camera assistant.

Innocent hive

Here's to Buy One Get One Bee coming back again next year.

as happy as a pig...drinking smoothie...

We love eggs.

We love Ian at Treflach Farm. He makes eggs (not him, obviously, the chickens).

Ian with chicken

Not only does Ian look after chickens, he looks after pigs too. This makes Ian a very busy man.

Not only does Ian look after chickens and pigs, he also finds the time to teach young'uns about how to look after our environment and how to play nice with animals.

Imagine how busy Ian is.

So being the nice folk we are, we decided to help Ian feed his pigs.


Was this enough?

Scarey doggy
Apparently not.

To avoid overfeeding smoothies to Ian's pigs (apparently they're just like us and don't like too much of the same thing) and to try and make the doggie relax a little bit, we needed a new way to help.

Luckily for us, Ian and the amazing team at Treflach Farm have already got a few ideas of their own so we decided it best for us to piggy back (sorry) one of theirs instead .

We love the idea of educating others about the birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees. After all, they're making the world a little bit of a better place for all of us.

Guard doggie

Behind the scariest dog in the world lies a classroom that Ian and the folk at Treflach could use to run classroom sessions in but it needed a little revamp to get it ship shape.

Now, DIY isn't exactly our forte at innocent but we are pretty handy at fundraising. So with a raffle to win tickets to stay, that's right, stay at Treflach (fancy it?) and a BBQ, we managed to raise a pot of cash to help get the classroom on its way.

How was the BBQ?

Delicious. Treflach's finest of course.

How's the classroom?

Shiney floor classroom


With the classroom ready and waiting for its first pupils in September, we thought it best to let Ian and the gang get back to what they're good at (which is pretty much everything they do) while we get back to what we're good at, making smoothies for everyone - animals included.

So far for piggies we're working on a mud and orange peel recipe.

The monkey range is looking like nuts and bananas, papaya and bananas or simply bananas and bananas.

If you've got any better ideas, post them below and the best one will win a case of our smoothies and a special mystery prize.

(Please note we don't advise you feeding your pets or any other animals smoothies. This is for mild amusement purposes only. We don't get out much).

meet the keeper

To celebrate Buy One, Get One Bee, back in July we ran a competition for one lucky winner and a friend to come along to the National Trust's Hanbury Hall to meet Tim the beekeeper and ask him all sorts of questions.


The winner was Julian and he'll be going along in a couple of weeks time to meet Tim, see the bees and have a spot of afternoon tea (we'll keep you posted about it right here).

In the meantime though, we thought it'd be polite to introduce Tim properly.

So here's a few interesting things about the man himself:

  • Tim's day job is as a computer software consultant so he looks after the bees in his spare time.
  • He's been beekeeping for about 10 years now, after having told a friend he wanted to see inside a hive (and then ending up looking after the entire colony).
  • His kids like to help him collect the swarms. That's his son on the right below (resplendent in mini bee keeper attire).
Father and son

Tim has very kindly answered every question that came in as part of the competition because he's a good man like that.

Here are just a few of his answers to some of the questions we had through:

Aren't you worried the bees will sting you? (Teresa Hill)

Whenever I get stung, it's because I did something that I shouldn't have so I'm more annoyed with myself for not noticing it. For example, going to move part of the beehive and not realising I have a bee caught in the fold of my glove. If I frightened the bee by trapping it in my glove then I deserve to be stung. Still hurts though.

Does the smoke used to help pacify the bees have any effect on humans? (Elaine Miller)

Yes. It's makes my eyes water for a start. I burn rotten wood but other beekeepers burn cardboard, old sacking or special old tobacco. The smoke causes the bees to think their hive is going to burn down so they may need to leave in a hurry. Seeing as they don't have any luggage, they fill their mouths with honey and nectar. Then they get a bit sleepy (like we all do after a big meal) and can't be bothered to move. Which means I can get to the honey more easily.

Is it true that honey is made by bees regurgitating nectar? (Bronwyn Cannon)

Well seeing as they haven't got any baskets to carry in, yes it is.

For the rest of Tim's answers, check out the comments below.

P.S. If you still haven't tried our lemon, honey and ginger recipe, then you haven't got long left before our next special guest recipe hits the shelves.

So bee quick and get down the shops quick smart.

(pun shamelessly stolen from Ben W)

roaming around


If you like rural things but live in a big urban thing (London) you should keep an eye out for Roam, a traveling ex-mobile Library that's working its way through East London's parks and green places right now. Part gig venue, part library, part a lecture theatre, part nature disco, part reading room, part meeting point, all depending where it stops. I went down last Friday to see Adem (who played at out innocent village fete a couple of year ago) play the guitar and use the side of the bus as a drum kit. Very good. There's still plenty more Roaming to come.


too early to call?

After the coldest winter in thirty one years, it's been non rainy for exactly 4 days now.

Dan has driven to work in the sunshine everyday (and he gets up really early).

Ted saw two new born lambs in a field near Swindon last week.

And the crocuses are out in the park.


Too early to call spring yet?