There’s a certain buzz surrounding this episode and how much Mark Rogers has to teach us about one of natures most complex, accurate and amazing systems… The bee hive. Bees not only cosy up in their hive to survive during the winter, they are also vital to the eco-system of our plant… Each day they help Mark produce better fruit in his orchard, and aid him in providing him (and us!) with delicious raw honey that’s very different to the stuff we see in supermarkets. This just scratches the surface in what this episode with Mark Rogers of Twinways Orchard and Filberts of Dorset.
00:00:00 Mark’s (Cribb) introduction
00:02:25 Meeting Mark Rogers, setting the scene in West Dorset on a wet and windy day!
00:03:50 All the types of bees… There’s more than just honey bees and bumble bees
- 00:04:57 “Farm wise, there are only really apis mellifera but there are people that have bees over here as something to look at… A different type of pet!”
00:07:24 Do farm bees and wild bees coexist?
- 00:07:36 “So we’ve got high 20s of actual bumblebees in this countries, different species that is, and they all more or less fill niches and work in very specific ways.”
- 00:08:45 “The reason that we’ve exploited the honeybee that we use is because she will go out and collected loads and loads of nectar, make loads of honey, store far more than she needs and then come back to that store in the winter because they all rely on each other to keep warm in the winter.”
00:10:10 Bees, the queens and chromosomes
- 00:12:16 “In Mexico, they actually…make a nest in a box or a cavity of some sort and they then look like little bunches of grapes with the tops come off… And they will secrete the honey into these little pots, and the way they harvest the honey over there is they suck the honey out of those tiny little pots…”
00:13:53 Royal Jelly and the Queen bee!
- 00:15:07 “The queen lays the eggs, that’s all she does. She’s just a slave, she is no way the ‘queen’ she is their egg slave.”
- 00:18:05 “Bees individually are like cells that specialise. You know like we have hair, skin and eyes and stuff that regenerates… And a colony of bees is like a human, like a whole animal.”
00:19:28 How do we know so much about bees?
- 00:20:05 “But actually it’s like, women totally rule in a roost because the females run the whole system and the males are only brought onto the scene when the females need to be mates. As soon as the outside situation changes… The women just rip the legs and wings off the men and chuck them out!”
00:21:16 Why are bees so important to the planet?
- 00:23:18 “And we’ve stepped into that and thought we can dominate the system and all we ever do is get it wrong because we don’t look at the system close enough. We just see where we can get the quickest buck out of it.” [Talking about bees]
00:24:57 The issue of monoculture and pesticides – is it affecting all pollinators?
- 00:25:32 “Before we’d have just eaten locally that food and stored it if we could, if we had a surplus. But now we bring it in from all over the world, which I’m not saying is a bad thing… By doing so we’ve put constant pressure on the system at all times.”
00:27:18 Is there an alternative way of pollinating? Why hand pollination doesn’t work…
00:27:59 Do we need the pollination annually? What would happen to Mark Rogers’ orchard without the bees?
- 00:29:17 “… That’s when the wild bumblebees are desperate to have all the pollen and protein they can get. Some things just won’t fruit… We brought bees into the equations and they start fruiting properly and more consistently.”
00:31:43 How serious are the issues with the bees (or lack of) right now?
- 00:33:23 “There is a disconnect over here.” [On not knowing about pollination]
00:34:08 What are the other things effecting our bees? Pesticides, monoculture…
- 00:35:54 Seed dressings to protect the early life of a seed – what does this mean?
- 00:38:42 “The first single flowering of the ten acres out of about 70 acres – we made so much honey that we paid for all of the ground preparations for the whole acreage, all of the seed that we’d bought and some of the mechanical expenses.”
00:41:35 Has anyone else adopted Mark’s businesses models?
00:43:43 The issue of nutrition and monoculture – what are bees eating?
00:44:45 Wild honeybees and how they thrive in other places
- 00:45:42 “When we moved here, we came here with 200 colonies and we just free falled. We just couldn’t keep the colony numbers up. We now actually use artificial insemination.”
00:48:42 Mark’s hive and orchard!
00:50:19 Can we help by growing our own plants, is it worthwhile?
- 00:50:50 “It’s about all of that. It’s about everybody having more variety for longer…”
- 00:51:44 “Stop spraying your sodding roses. Leave your dandelions around. Leave areas of the place unkempt, that’s habitat it’s not just for us to look at.”
00:52:18 Is bringing hives into town helpful to the bees?
- 00:53:20 “That is the best part about bees. If you can get people stoked on the importance of the whole system, then that will be the answer.”
- 00:54:14 “The honeybees, they’ll cheat sometimes and they’ll just rip a hole in the bottom of the flower to get to the nectar!”
00:56:29 The abundance of nature and how it looks after itself… but the process isn’t always that simple.
00:58:35 What triggered Mark to become interested in bees?
- 01:00:39 “Just seeing that there was potential, there was this bit of niche we weren’t using.”
- 01:02:24 “…This little orchard next to the house in which the trees never had fruit on them to the extent where I’d never seen fruit on them. To try the fruit on them… Bang, there’s fruit on them… The bees have done this??”
01:03:33 How easy is it to set up a beehive of your own?
- 01:04:44 “When the queens are set in their cells and the rest of the colony are happy that they are going to be the future of that individual colony… The bees that are now homeless will fly around looking for a new cavity to fill.”
01:07:44 Sheep in Mark’s orchard keeping the grass short!
01:08:21 Why do bees like hives?
- 01:08:24 “Bees are like obsessive compulsive maniacs; they take it to the next level. They are shape and space warriors – they want a really precise gap between the cells, they have an optimal cavity they like to fill…”
01:10:09 How the bee hive works!
- 01:10:43 “In a hive, heat rises and it’s the heat that they need in order to keep themselves alive and they have to follow that heat, and we’ve exploited that… we always leave enough honey.”
01:12:09 Bees looking after themselves – Mark talking about how he manages his bees and the process of beekeeping
- 01:12:50 “They need the right diet, the right temperature, protection from the elements… They need a space.”
01:14:56 When can you harvest the honey?
01:15:50 What Mark does… Creating raw honey and the difference between that and honey that’s heated.
- 01:16:31 “But when you heat it, you’re basically just turning what is already an inverted sugar into caramel. You’re just cooking the sugar, and what’s nice about honey with taking it in steps is you get different flavours throughout the year.”
01:18:00 The honey we buy in supermarkets…
01:19:25 Local honey – does it help with hay fever?
01:20:27 Where does Mark sell his honey and what else does he do?
- 01:21:54 “So we were trying to make these like, body builder energy bar type things but it was just too far ahead of the curve… I was scraping the pots out one day with a plastic spatula type thing, and scraping it onto my hand… And it was basically like a salve, petroleum jelly.”
01:25:15 Are these products always under the same brand?
01:26:55 Pollination services and Mark taking his bees on the road!
- 01:27:17 “It rarely helps us at all, but we keep on doing it. Either people kill them all, that’s quite often…”
01:30:29 What’s does Mark Rogers find the most rewarding part of his job?
- 01:31:10 Sending bees BY POST!
01:32:30 Does Mark think the bee situation is going to get better, or worse? Are we really “all screwed!”?
01:36:37 Marks final thoughts and sign off
If you’re interested in the film Mark mentioned about a farm in America that was resurrected by nature… It’s called “The Biggest Little Farm” and you can check it out here: https://tv.apple.com/gb/movie/the-biggest-little-farm/umc.cmc.6bg19twjgke2kqqmhxe48ytj6
If you’d like to learn a little more about bees, Mark Rogers himself or any of the products that he has to offer, check out the websites and social links below… Or, tune in to the full episode here.
Twinways Orchard Website: https://www.twinways.com/
Filberts of Dorset Website: https://www.filbertsofdorset.co.uk/