Here at Mac Ivors we owe a lot to our friends the bees. Our 50,000 apple trees burst into flower every spring. It is a breath-taking sight and the sweet scent of the apple blossom envelops the orchards.
But that riot of pink and white is worth nothing unless the bees pollinate those flowers and this year has been tough on our bees. We have about 40 hives of honey bees in our orchards and they are normally extremely active at this time of year. They go mad for the dandelions and at least some of them will move onto apple blossom. However, the cold, wet and windy weather that we are having at the moment makes them irritable and if the temperature doesn’t climb above 12 C they won’t even come out of their hives! Not good for setting our crop. There have only been a few days in the last two weeks that have gotten above 12 degrees.
But, we have an ace up our sleeve, the bumble bee. The native bumble bee is a much hardier insect than the honey bee and will fly at 10 C or even lower. This difference is critical during periods of bad weather at blossom time so we bring in small hives of native bumble bees that have been bred for just this purpose. With only 400 adults per hive, they don’t have nearly as many workers as a hive of honey bees but they can fly in cold and windy conditions. Let’s hope they were successful. We will know in about four weeks, when we begin to see the small apples.
And remember folks, it take four whole apples to make up every bottle of delicious Mac Ivors Cider. Now let’s all hope for sunshine!
“Apple Blossom Sundays”
If you haven’t caught a glimpse of the beautiful blossom this year, why not pop in this Sunday or next Sunday to Ardress House. Located just across the road from Mac Ivors, this wonderful National Trust property celebrate “Apple Blossom Sundays” in May. Mid-Ulster Bee Keepers will be there with their delicious honey and wax products. BBQs, orchard tours, local bakers, plenty of fun for the kids too. Of course, Mac Ivors cider will also be there so you can taste your favourite cider, as local as can be!! Check out their website for more details here: