While the sustainability project plans were temporarily put on hold during the spring and summer of 2020 our Optix apiary thrived. Each colony was strong in numbers, healthy and produced a rather impressive crop of honey. Forager bees took full advantage of the unkempt hedges, parkland and verges, whilst in the hives carefully selected larva were fed copious amounts of royal jelly, later to emerge as new queens. Tending to the bees we were rewarded with sightings of deer, foxes and badgers. Shy birds, such as gold hammers, bramblings and stone chats could be seen or heard in the hedgerows. 2020 was a good year for our resident bees and the beautiful surrounding countryside.
In the very early spring of 2021, we decided to press ahead with our plan to create a wildflower meadow. We started small, with an experiment to see how suitable the ground is and what type of flowers will grow - whilst making sure not to disrupt the existing inhabitants too much. Our underlying soil is primarily a sodden, heavy clay. But with a little love and finesse, we hope for good results. Existing grass and brambles were carefully cleared to allow a rotovator to turn over the top layer of soil. Over a number of days this newly exposed soil was raked, cursed at and left to settle - ready for the seeds to be sown. We decided to go all out on the selection of seeds and roughly 30,000 were sown. In the mix were poppies, cornflowers, foxgloves, borrage, clovers and some more unusual varieties. This mix of annuals and perennials should give great colour this year and the next.
Fingers crossed for the next few months.
This pandemic has given people time to reflect, appreciate and discover the environment and wildlife on their doorsteps. Social media has exploded with pictures of newfound love for gardening, wildlife and the great outdoors. The reduced human mobility has also allowed scientists to reveal critical aspects of our impact on animals and the surrounding environment, providing important guidance on how best to share space on this crowded planet.
Despite this renewed appreciation, the pandemic has also seen a weakening in institutional support for conservation; from the interruption of funding streams, protection of parks and vulnerable species, to the stalling of monitoring and research activities that make these impacts visible.
Now is the time to reflect and think about the effect of our expansive lifestyle. We would love to learn and work with other businesses in the local area and help make Exeter a hub of sustainability both now and into the future.