Guest post and photos by Education Officer – Cilla Platt

On Saturday 22nd of June the Southern District Beekeepers swarmed on a visit to Mallards in Santon organised by Gwen Kelly at the kind invitation of Mark Shuttleworth and Claire.

It was a perfect still warm sunny day.

We convened in the front garden of Mallards after walking up the drive beside lawns that were largely huge flowing beds of heavenly scented Thymes.

The bees could not have been tired working them as they strolled from flower to flower.  The saying “they were in clover” is wrong, “Thyme” is much more apt.

Mark, and Andrew his amazing head gardener, took us off on a leisurely walk around the 185 acres, revealing one fascinating work in progress after another.

Old farm fields have been changed from grass to flower meadows and mostly broad leaved trees, have been planted in organised fashion to maximise help to wild life of all kinds.

Different varieties of trees are being trialled to find out which type of cultivation encourages wild flowers as apposed to rank grasses, but still encourages tree growth.

Different annual flower mixes and establishing perennial swathes are being perfected.  Fields have been set up to show case flora from several parts of the world, for example Chile and New Zealand.

Everywhere there was the site and sound of insects of all kinds.

The city of sky scrapers that is Mark’s Apiary, shows how much his bees are enjoying his efforts!

Our 45 minute walk turned into 2 hours and 45 minutes!

As we made our way back to Mallards we passed an amphitheatre under construction.  Cherry trees are to be planted around the bounds of it when it is finished.

It will bee spectacular.  A visit to and inside the green (leafy plants) walled offices that abut the road across from the house, was the final excitement of our magnificent tour of the estate.

How welcome however were the cups of tea generously provided by our hostess and the cake brought by our wonderful Southern District Bakers and our hostess too.  We sat on the hot sunny terrace and talked as only beekeepers can.

Then to our surprise a most generous cheque was presented by Margaret Galloway for the Association to donate to support beekeeping in poor nations.  She had knitted more than £200 worth of bees which had been sold at the Health Food Shop in Port Erin. Sincere thanks.

Thank you to all involved in making the most delightful afternoon one to be remembered.



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