By Rob, Free Range Dairy Farmer.
A couple of years ago, around the time we became Pasture Promise accredited, the farm became a host for 20 honey beehives in return for a free supply of honey. They are located in a south facing corner of the farm, which is sheltered and easily accessible for the local beekeepers to tend to them.
Grazing leys are primarily made up of different species of grass, which are wind pollinated, and white clover which is insect pollinated. White clover is a favourite with honey bees, as the nectar is easily accessible for their short tongues. We have also tried to introduce red clover into our silage leys, which is more suitable for bumble bees, with their longer tongues.
Like many other free range farms, the cows move around the farm on a rotational grazing system, where paddocks are grazed down and then left for a few weeks. This is great for the bees as there is always clover in different stages of its growth cycle, providing a continuous supply of nectar.
The environmental benefits which bees provide are well documented, and being a host has played a part of increasing the biodiversity of the farm. With the cows and the honey bees foraging the same pastures, the land now provides two fantastic natural products in milk and honey.