Tregothnan is making a considerable investment into bees. There is significant pressure on bee populations worldwide which has a knock on impact on honey production, pollination and subsequently food production.
As an agricultural estate Tregothnan ensures that there are pollinators present to promote successful pollination and reproduction of plant crops. A pollinator is an animal that causes plants to make fruit or seeds. They do this by moving pollen from one part of the plant to another part which then fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit or seeds, and without them, the plants cannot reproduce. Examples of pollinating animals are bees, butterflies, wasps and flies.
Due to past human practices the number of wild pollinators has decreased dramatically, most visibly in the honeybee population. Habitat loss means less shelter and diversification of food sources for the bees. Climate change has had an impact on bees as winters become warmer and wetter bees change their nesting behaviour and pattern of movement. The use of pesticides can be harmful for bees but can also reduce their breeding success and resistance to disease. The international spread of bee diseases and parasites like Varroa has affected bee colonies by weakening them.
Honeybees in the UK are now very dependent on their relationship with humans. Responsible beekeeping and bee breeding practices are a way to ensure that bees are able to thrive and adapt to these new conditions.
Within five years Tregothnan aims to be a leading force in apiculture in the United Kingdom.
Tregothnan has been working to breed from this local stock to help ensure its survival, and to minimise the impact of the international bee trade which further increases the risk of spreading disease. No single area at Tregothnan is oversaturated with hives. Bees need at least three kilometres to roam so the hives are spread across Estate lands to accommodate flying zones, giving each hive a large forage area. Bees can collect pollen from between 50-100 different plant species on a single flight so there is a plethora of variety in and around the gardens at Tregothnan.
Cornwall is one of the few remaining refugees of Apis mellifera mellifera, known locally as the Cornish Black Bee. The Cornish Black Bee is a subspecies of the Western Honey Bee that has evolved to cope with Atlantic weather.
Tregothnan has approximately 50 hives positioned over Estate lands. Some are nestled alongside the sweet scented Leptospermum scoparium or Manuka bushes and the rare and delicious Manuka honey is created from its pollen.
Bee preservation should be right at the top of everyone’s wildlife agenda, especially given that their pollination of crops amounts to about a third of all the food we eat. For more information about the subject, have a read of this article from Gardener’s Path https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/disease-and-pests/why-we-need-bees/.