Day 23: Today’s blog is all about bees, honeybees. David and I drove to The Bee Centre in the grounds of Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire, for a two hour pre-booked bee experience. After donning our bee suits and taking the obligatory photos, we (of a group of nine) were escorted to the outdoor hives. Kath opened up a hive and explained what was happening in the frames.
David in bee suit
Christine in bee suit
Christine and hive frame
Kath used smoke to make the bees (native black bees) more docile, while she inspected the hive. The bees gorge on honey, thinking there’s a fire so that they can take stores with them when they set up a new colony. We witnessed a drone (male) being born and lots of male/female brood cells and also the odd queen cell. It was fascinating to learn so much about life in a hive! Everyone has their own role and worker bees can fly up to three miles for food. The queen lays 2,000 eggs a day and is solely dependent on being cared for by the other bees. A worker bee can live up to six weeks whereas a queen can live to five years.
After meeting the bees we returned to the centre for honey tasting. The centre has an ethical and sustainable view on beekeeping and only extract honey when there is a genuine surplus. Due to this year’s wet June the bees are having a hard time and need our help! You can do this by planting more bee friendly plants, a helpful list can be found here.
Our experience really whetted our appetite for beekeeping and whether a hive would be something our yarden could accommodate?
After walking through the islands of Panay and the mysterious Papua with it’s Cassowary’s and mist.
We finally reached Sumba with it’s Lazy Boat Ride. I personally love this ride, it is so tranquil and today was no exception. While the zoo filled up with guests we sat in a boat and relaxed in the quietude of the river ride.
We saw the Visayan Warty Pigs and later on the Banteng, both enclosures look lovely!
After disembarking the boat we made our way to Bali where we watched doves and Javan Sparrows flit about freely. It made me comment that Islands is almost like a zoo within a zoo! There are many facets of Islands yet to be discovered.
Finally, it was onto Monsoon Forest! The biome is temperature controlled and the first area we entered was Tripa Forest Research Station which has views of the Orang-utan’s enclosure for when they are finally settled.
Tripa Forest Research Station
The research station was well designed and very authentic feeling. I loved the display of research papers amongst actual exhibits for the smaller insects/animals in the zoo’s collection.
Exhibit with spiders and leeches etc..
Then it was into the rainforest itself, where apparently it rains sometimes! There were no birds free flying but there will be in time!
As like any other exhibit you see the animals when they want to be seen, and today the Rhinoceros Hornbill was sitting on it’s perch but the Sulawesi Macaques were fast asleep high up in their enclosure. The Sumatran Tigers have been relocated to islands but are acclimatising to their new surroundings. It will be wonderful to see them in their huge new home when it is open to the public.
There have been many pictures of the new exhibit, the Sunda Gharial crocodile but all David and I saw was the head of the animal, it’s huge body and tail was submerged under water!
We spent a good hour in Islands, this our second visit. It is an exhibit that can be visited again and again and something new would be witnessed each time. The new venture for Chester Zoo can only go from strength to strength. Also with this new land being available it is opening up more space within the zoo to bring in more species. The Sun Bear is an excellent example which will be housed in the old tiger enclosure. Something to look forward to in the future. 🙂