There are 18 species of bees in the Azores. These pollinators are an indispensable natural resource in agriculture and for a healthy ecosystem. In short, we need bees and we need a lot of them. The grounds of the estate were unloved or simple cattle grazing land. The only plus (amongst all the weeds and overgrown plants) was that it was an accidental paradise for wildlife, including bees. In the Azores, bees were first recorded in 16th century according to Marques (cited in Crane 1999: 219) “Beekeeping was started in 1554 (…), the bees probably being taken there from Portugal.”
Bees are essential to all the food we enjoy, but they are in steep decline. The bees in the Azores are similar in diversity to Madeira and Cape Verde, but 10 times lower than the Canary Islands. While we do not know the causes of this, it could be due to a lack of research or that the island has a high percentage of intensive farming and this has reduced bee numbers.
With this in mind, we will happily give free plants we have made from cuttings to anyone who would like them! Join us at one of our plant swaps and pick some up. More details can be found here.
All bees found in the Azores are a mix of European and African bees who are mostly non-threatening or aggressive. Unless you threaten them they are highly unlikely to sting you.
On the estate we are passionate about helping the population recover and we are working on a number of initiatives. to welcome our stripey friends to the area. Our strategy is to look into how we can help them over a number of stages. These include:
- Understanding: What bees do we have and what plants do we have on the estate that they go for?
2. Environmental audit: and ensure we are not doing anything to harm the bees on the estate (not using any pesticides for example)
3. Understanding: What flowers can we plant on the estate to help the bees thrive that are not already here
4. Planting: We have a goal of 10,000 plants to grow and plant on the estate by 2025. We want to ensure floral diversity (just like humans, eating only one type of thing is not good for them)
5. On-going maintenance: Wildlife ponds, hives and natural resting spots to encourage bee diversity
No one thing will help the bees thrive on the estate, but we believe our approach will help us and the bees. In 2022 we plan to have our own hives so that we can harvest our own honey. We will of course be taking less than 1/3 that is produced. This would naturally go to waste in the hive and is not needed by the bees