Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus Feb18 AM
Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus

March Notes

When putting sterilised frames in an outside apiary shed one cold day in Feb, I saw a Shrew running around the plastic tray in which a brood box with drawn comb was sitting. The board covering the top had moved leaving a small gap. Lifting the brood box, a large pile of leaves fell out. I carefully replaced the box, and the gap, with the shrew back between two frames, as they eat small pests. Yes, I know I shall have to recycle the frames in the spring but I am rather fond of shrews.

If you need to stock up on any beekeeping equipment for the year ahead, Mantel Farm have new products and a wide selection of essentials.

With a bit of luck we may be able to make a quick inspection later in March if it reaches about 12 °C and light wind. Clean Cover cloths will help keep the warmth in. I have already seen them all taking in crocus and snowdrop pollen so am sure they all have brood but in this brief first inspection I shall concentrate on seeing if this is worker brood (hopefully no drone, indicating either queen loss or drone laying queen) and that they have space for the queen to lay in. From my last inspections in the autumn I already know which ones will need a shook swarm to replace all the dark frames in April, or just a few old frames which can be changed over the next few weeks before the brood area expands back into them making it more complicated. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies”

Transporting Poultry – Jason’s Ninth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

Take Me Home (via) Country Roads…

Take me home
Take me home

Spring is in the air – crocuses, daffodils, birds singing and making nests, the promise of some fine warmer weather and longer days. We all look forward to the lighter evenings. For the chicken keeper, those lighter evenings can bring a rather different problem. It presents itself on those evenings when you’ve just had enough, are too tired, exhausted even, or are simply hoping for an evening out… Continue reading “Transporting Poultry – Jason’s Ninth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pygmy Goat Mix

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their pygmy goat mix product line.

Pygmy Goat Mix
Pygmy Goat Mix

Fibre is crucial for all breeds of goats so should make up the largest portion of your pygmy goat’s diet. Hay is high in fibre and should be available to them at all times throughout the year and this should be of good quality and dust free. As goats are browsers rather than grazers, they do enjoy eating from above so try feeding their hay from a rack to simulate this natural behaviour. Goats also enjoy nibbling on woody material from hedgerows so to provide added interest, try hanging branches of their favourite shrubs, such as hazel and hawthorn, alongside their hay. Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pygmy Goat Mix”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

bee drinking from water drops in grass Amanda Millar Jan18
Bee drinking from water drops in grass

Preparing For Spring

Only a month to go before beekeeping starts again; time to make sure all our equipment is clean, there are some supers and frames ready to put on and some brood boxes and frames ready for the shook swarms and frame replacement which I always have to do on a few in the spring. You can leave putting the foundation in until the beginning of March to keep it fresh and fragrant. It will also be worth putting the insert in for a week at some point to see if they need a quick varroa treatment in March before the supers go on. Keep hefting the hives; the queens will be laying more now and the store’s consumption will go up. If necessary use fondant until March when it will be warm enough for syrup, but don’t overfeed or they will just move it all into your new supers as the brood area expands. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News”

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Increasing Daylight And Pre-Spring Preparation

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald…

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

Gardening Pruning Trees Ian Jan2018
Pruning Trees

First of all, Happy New Year! It doesn’t seem too long ago I wrote for the newsletter – We’ve enjoyed the shorter days running up to the Winter Solstice but now we’re reclaiming daylight hours back, week by week, day by day and our busiest time of the year is not far away! Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Increasing Daylight And Pre-Spring Preparation”

Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – Coincidental Chance

From his fifth and latest book “Life Presented in Verse“, comes a poem of “romantic hope” that we can always find or get caught by love. It is entitled “Coincidental Chance”.

The Psychy Poet
The Psychy Poet

Coincidental Chance

You spoke to me out of the blue
And I didn’t know who you were,
But like Pitney’s “24 hours from Tulsa”
Such happenings can occur.
For I had felt an instant shudder
That I couldn’t quite control,
Also a strange realisation
You had touched my very soul. Continue reading “Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – Coincidental Chance”

An Introductory Guide To Cockerels – Jason’s Eighth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

GOOD MORNING WORLD! or in the words of our favourite cockerel ‘cock-a-doodle-doo!!’. It’s a crisp February morning, and as winter moves (hopefully) into its final month our Gold Brahma cockerel, ‘Solar’, belts it out like a ship coming into dock!, announcing the start of another new day.

A huge cock-a-doodle-do from Solar
A huge cock-a-doodle-do from Solar

After many years in poultry keeping it would be hard for me to pick a favourite breed, however if you were to pin me down, it would have to be the Brahma, though definitely not suitable for everyone mostly due to their huge size and lack of egg numbers, the almost guaranteed placid nature and beautiful markings makes them a very attractive pet bird. Over many years Solar has literally been a star at Mantel Farm, often being allowed to wander around in our shop, minding his own business, allowing children to stroke him, and often attending events and shows with us, creating quite a stir, many people saying ‘ they never knew that there was such a large chicken!’. Continue reading “An Introductory Guide To Cockerels – Jason’s Eighth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

beekeeping-notes

Temperatures and Clusters

At this time of year, we cannot see what the bees are up to except by observing the entrance or briefly lifting the crown board. The 20 colonies I am currently looking after are all reacting differently, probably related to their genetic make-up, colony size and disease states. In the course of ridding them of mites by dusting, and therefore opening most of them twice a week in November I have seen some in a tight quiet cluster, others are loosely clustered and active. Some are low down in the hive and I have to take the heavy super off to find them. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids”

Poultry Care, Getting Hens Through Winter – Jason’s Seventh Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

It was early one very cold January morning, many years ago when I learned something about keeping poultry that I have passed on (not so much as advice, but) as a warning to many other keepers.

Frozen drinker - no drink here!
Frozen drinker – no drink here!

We woke up to a thick layer of snow that morning, and as ever when it comes, what a sight to wake up to, I always want to rush out with my camera, there are always so many great ‘snowy’ shots to take around the farm, though to be honest, I probably took them last time we had snow! A little slower than normal I made my way down to do what we refer to here as the morning ‘open up’, referring to all the animals (we don’t just do chickens!) as ‘everyone’, the open up is the regular morning routine of making sure everyone is let out of their overnight enclosures, fed, watered, a visual health check and a brief chat with some of our old favourites! Most importantly making sure everyone is ‘still with us’!, always hoping not to find that there has been any sort of overnight disaster, this can take many forms, and over the years I’ve definitely had a few of them! Continue reading “Poultry Care, Getting Hens Through Winter – Jason’s Seventh Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Butterfly on hive
Butterfly on hive

Checking Hives

There is little to do in December except checking that the hives have not blown over, or been damaged by woodpeckers, damp or vandalism and that the entrances are not blocked by dead bees. Put the insert in mid month for a week (or do an icing sugar dust to get a more accurate and rapid assessment) in order to assess the mite drop and decide whether oxalic acid treatment is necessary at the end of the month. Sussex University believe that if any sealed brood is removed just before doing an oxalic treatment, this will last for a full year. Do take appropriate personal safety measures and read thoroughly the dosage etc to prevent harm to yourselves and the bees. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig Food

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their pot bellied pig food product line.

Smallholder Range - Pot Bellied Pig
Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig

The amount of feed a pig requires depends on its age and reproductive state. Pigs which are given the opportunity to free-range to any degree will obtain some of their food from natural sources, such as vegetation, brambles, acorns, apples and even earth worms, however it is important to supplement this with a balanced compound feed. Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig Food”

Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More

Christmas Cheer

Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop
Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop

We hope you like our Christmas newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. So it’s the last newsletter of 2017! I know we all say it; but where has the year gone? With the recent sharp frosts lasting most of the morning, and the fire alight in the shop, it is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas and it doesn’t seem quite so strange putting the decorations up (I must make those mince pies!) Continue reading “Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More”

This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Checking For Hidden (and hibernating) Creatures

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on hidden creatures.

Be sure to check for Hedgehogs
Be sure to check for Hedgehogs

Now the colder days and nights are upon us the pests are looking for somewhere warm and dry to spend the winter days. So now is the time to be on the lookout for pests making a home in your attic, garage or shed. Not all are a pest – I had two hedgehogs hibernate in my chicken house a couple of years ago! Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Checking For Hidden (and hibernating) Creatures”

Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?

At a recent business event I had the pleasure of meeting Laurie, who has written so many great poems – his books are definitely included in our family’s stockings, and I just wanted to share his work with you all here. Laurie has supposedly retired, now spending his time writing and sharing his poems. All the profits made from his work go to the Help for Heroes Charity so this is a great way to enjoy a poem, buy a great gift and help a great cause.

The Psychy Poet
The Psychy Poet

IS it Merry Christmas?

Christmas cheer fills the world
All ready for that special day,
Got to have the greatest meal
For the best ever family day.
Smiling faces beam for the photo
All happy sat round the table.
Well mostly smiling, some just trying,
To look as happy as they’re able! Continue reading “Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?”

Keeping Poultry Safe, Protection From Foxes – Jason’s Sixth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

I’m often asked when is the best time of year to start keeping poultry

Sturdy wire keeps out Mr Fox
Sturdy wire keeps out Mr Fox

I think most people would naturally consider the answer to be early spring. This is the time of year when we always notice our shop getting busier, as we joke about the customers coming out of hibernation! Without a doubt it is the time of year when most beginners start their poultry keeping, although I’m quite happy to advise that more or less any time of year can be just as good, ‘different seasons for different reasons’. Continue reading “Keeping Poultry Safe, Protection From Foxes – Jason’s Sixth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees collecting water
Bees collecting water

Varroa Update

The varroa ‘bomb’ has struck again, in about the second week of October. In August my mite levels were generally low and I got most of them down to single figures after a dusting. I usually check again mid October, but was a week later than planned as I hurt my back lifting a too heavy super. I dusted on 20th October and was horrified, but not surprised, to have drops of between 19 and 550, so whenever weather permits, I shall be dusting. In 2012 all those which dropped more than 300 after a dusting at the end of October, died. The weather was poor that year though, so they were probably more susceptible. It will be interesting to see if the two this year dropping 400 and 550 die over winter. I hope not as they were promising new colonies this year. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their super mixed corn product line.

Smallholder Range - Super Mixed Corn 20kg
Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn 20kg

Many people like to feed their chickens ‘treats’ to add variety to the diet. Whilst there is nothing wrong with feeding a small amount of treats, make sure your chickens eat their complete feed in the morning before giving any treats. This is important as the chicken’s crop limits food intake and as chickens are likely to prefer treats to their complete feed, they may fill up on treats and miss out on getting the right balance of nutrients. Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn”

New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening

New Look Newsletter

Frame of Bee Brood
Frame of Bee Brood

We hope you like our new look newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. Having carried out some research into how people view our newsletters we have found that the old format was behaving badly on some phones and devices, so we hope this style will be easier for all to read (please do give feedback). Continue reading “New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening”

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Autumn, Gateway to Winter & Planting Season

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald…

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

gardening tales

After the clocks have gone back, the temperatures slowly dip and the days grow shorter, I start to cheer. For this is the time the seasons tell me to go home earlier and to rest and relax well! Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Autumn, Gateway to Winter & Planting Season”

Introducing New Birds Into An Existing Flock – Jason’s Fifth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

Everyone loves the thought of that ‘magic answer’ – something many seek when it comes to introducing new birds into an existing flock!

Cockerels Can Help Introductions
Cockerels can help introductions

In our shop, I work extremely hard to ensure that no one leaves, having purchased birds, without being asked if they have an existing flock, and whether they intend to introduce the new ones to them. If the answer is yes, they are asked if they have done this before, how it went, and just a quick run through to ensure they did it the best way possible. If the answer is no, then myself or my staff will talk them through the procedure that we recommend they follow. This is never set in stone, and will depend on many factors – for successful introduction, there is much you must know… Continue reading “Introducing New Birds Into An Existing Flock – Jason’s Fifth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed

Happy Pigs

A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns
A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns

The leaves are dropping already! The plum tree is now nearly bare and there are conkers and leaves all over the track (time to start raking!) The Oaks are only just beginning to turn, but they are loaded with Acorns this year and much to the pigs delight they are constantly dropping into their pen! Continue reading “Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees orange ragwort or pale balsam pollen
Ragwort pollen pouring in, in response to first feed in early September. Entrance (5.5mm high) reduced right down with sponge to help defend against wasps and robbers.

Feeding and Varroa Check for Winter

Feeding syrup should be completed by now, this is so the bees have time before the weather becomes colder, to reduce the moisture in it as they would with nectar so it will keep over winter. If they still do not have what they need, I expect that 2:1 syrup or invert syrup is still better than anything else such as fondant, until the weather falls consistently below 14°C, at which point they go into a cluster. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths”

Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Hedge Cutting And Nesting Birds

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

Cutting Hedges
Cutting Hedges

This month we begin our hedge cutting regime in all of our gardens. Except for the minimal reduction of lateral growth in the summer for access, we haven’t cut since the end of February. This allows the birds to complete their second or even third brood cycles. Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Hedge Cutting And Nesting Birds”

This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Rodenticides

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Rodenticides.

Rodents
Rodents

At this time of year it is worth checking your garden or plot for signs of rats before the winter months set in. If a rat population is low then control measures can be carried out yourself using licensed baits and traps, but if an infestation is found then you will need to call in a pest controller to solve the problem, so early action is best. Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Rodenticides”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Natural Free Range Layers Pellets / Crumble

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their natural free range product line.

smallholder range
Smallholder Range, Natural Free Range Pellets / Crumble

Natural Free Range Layers Feed from the Smallholder Range provides a complete, nutritionally balanced diet, for healthy hens. Made from the highest standard of Non-GM ingredients, the Smallholder Range has recently launched their layers feed with the additional benefit of being Soya Free! Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Natural Free Range Layers Pellets / Crumble”