Today, I will be clearing the undergrowth in the area we are growing hazel and chestnut for coppicing as well as some for the nuts (squirrels permitting.). Hazelnuts produce a rich oil nourishing oil for the skin as well as for things like stir fries etc. I also have two top bar bee hives on this site though only one is occupied at the moment. On part of the site is the hedge that was laid last winter. This ancient art was used to keep stock as well as people in or out of areas, the exact pattern of laying varied according to the purpose.
I will also be adding a willow skep to the area for keeping some bees in. Since making it I have covered it in clay which doesn’t look quite as attractive but will stop the bees entering and leaving through all the gaps as well as improving the insulation!This will also have a cover over it and possibly be filled with wood shavings around the skep to provide still more insulation as it will be a relatively small colony. I will not harvest any honey from these bees but they will provide a source of swarms for when I need to re-populate a hive or when others want bees to get started.
The coppiced hazel and chestnut will provide an alternative to using imported bamboo canes and so will increase the sustainability of the allotments as a whole as well as providing early pollen and nectar for the bees.