Beekeeping, an Organic market garden and a composting lesson
This session the students had a choice of four activities: A walking field trip, working on our clay/mud/straw and bamboo model buildings, lavender bag craft and identifying existing trees on the project site boundary. half of the students walked to a large garden close to the school. We had the opportunity to see two different kinds of beehive and the bees inside building two very different honeycomb structures. Lucia showed us her top bar beehive and how the bees build natural comb onto the pyramid shaped wooden bars.
The top bar hive is an ancient beekeeping method that has been used for centuries it is experiencing a resurgence in recent years among natural beekeeping circles as it allows the bees to build a natural comb shape from scratch. This kind of hive is harder to scrape off the wax and spin out the honey so it is a great choice for beekeepers looking for pollinators for crops over honey production. Lucia keeps her top bar hive for pollination of her fruit trees and berry crops and the modern langstroth stacking box hive for honey production.
The Langstroth hive was designed by an American man (Lorenzo Langstroth) in the the 1850’s. His design revolutionized the way people kept bees and allowed for both more manipulation and more humane practices. Langstroth hives allow beekeepers to extract individual combs for both health inspections and honey harvests. This clever design has become the standard of modern beekeeping.
We loved seeing Lucias garden as it was on a similar scale to our site and she is growing many of the crops the children would like to grow.
Reuben found the blueberry bushes and red currant hedge, the kids recognised olive trees, citrus trees and raspberry bushes.
Lucia explained to us about mulching to retain moisture, add nutrients and deter weeds. She showed us winter crops of cabbages and leafy greens. Abby described the greenhouse as "like paradise".
Lucia taught us the permaculture technique of placing a layer cardboard onto grass and leaving it for several months and how the grass is composted to leave rich soil underneath. She also taught us about composting and how heaps of compost are built with alternate layers of garden and vegetable waste, lucia adds dolomite powder to the compost to adjust the compost ph and reduce the acidity.
I was excited and impressed by how attentive and interested the students were and how much they learned. Theo came home and explained to his dad how we need to change our composting set up .... Transferable skills in action :)
Thanks again to Lucia for inviting us into her garden and all her help and advice. We have so many ideas to take back to our planning workshops for farming and gardening.