Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bee Good, invite some new friends into your yard- For the country's sake...

This is slightly off topic but a couple of recent events got me thinking. I hope it might encourage anyone who keeps horses to let a little extra wildlife into their yards for positive effect.

Last week I tweeted a news article about the decline of the UK Honey Bee Population and the significant impact this could have on the economy, particularly the rural economy. I won't regurgitate that article but the gist is that we rely on bees to pollenate UK crops, and the bee population is dwindling. So, as a bit of an amateur bee keeper, I'd encourage anyone who owns a few acres to assist by letting bee keepers house a few hives. Obviously you would not want to have bees within 30 metres of stables or where horses could knock over a hive, but otherwise bees pose no risk to horses, and if you cut your own hay or have plenty of clover in your fields then it's actually beneficial to have bees around. And just to lay a common myth to rest, bees pose less of a risk (almost none) whilst swarming than at any other time and only swarm during May/June.

I'm not suggesting you all take up bee keeping, although they can be fascinating creatures, but having bees around has a load of benefits. Oddly enough, London has a thriving bee keeping population.

Another creature you wouldn't normally associate with stables that is very good to have around is the stoat. Last year we moved into a new house that is surrounded by game cover making it the perfect base for rats. After several attempts to get rid of them, our friendly neighbourhood stoats moved in and got rid of the lot. We've not seen a rat at all for some time. So apart from the obvious benefits of getting rid of rats, Stoats will also rid you of rabbits - no more rabbit holes for your horses to put their feet in! Stoats will happily live in and around your barns (our's live in an old shed full of junk), so if you do spot them, don't discourage them - they're the best ratters you can find!

Now, whilst I'm on the subject of being an environmental warrior, spare a thought for the increasing rare hedgehog, particularly the one's in my garden! We have 2 or 3 hedgehogs visit or live in our garden, and at least once a fortnight they make the mistake of going too near the dog kennel - the dog barks - the hedgehog rolls up - the dog continues to bark - the hedghog doesn't move - the dog continues to bark - the hedgehog gets a headache - I rescue the hedgehog with a shovel at 3am!  I can't tell you they are going to do wonders for your stable yard, but they do eat lots of slugs, so if you're a keen gardener, the hedgehog is your friend. Leave a pile of leaves or hay near a hedgerow or a quite corner somewhere and they'll nest.

Greenpeace moment over, back to the main topic!

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