A homemade bee hotel has been on my to-do list for quite a while now, I was originally going to make one out of bamboo canes and then create a little wooden frame to put them inside. However, the inspirational world of social media has given me a much better idea and I just couldn’t wait to go out and pick some… Common Hogweed! Now I must confess I never knew anything about this plant before apart from that it lines countryside roads and looks a little like a large cow parsley. Infact the stems are hollow and make great homes for leaf cutter bees! So off I went on my bicycle to forage some large common hogweed stems and I managed to find the mother load down a little country lane in my village (and I made a note to go back and forage the elderberries too!)
I’m going to cut them down to around 6 inches in length and leave them in the shed to dry out. Alternatively you can wait until later in the year when the whole plant has dried before foraging the stems, I decided to let them dry off inside incase the plants rotted in the rain (and we are forecast a lot of that during the next week!) The first stage of my bee hotel is in process, now all I need to do is make a little wooden frame to hold the stems, add a pretty slate roof, and give it a lick of paint and then all those leaf cutter bees whizzing around the allotment should be happy.
Now whilst I was out collecting the common hogweed stems I decided to go and look at a tree which my Dad had told me about. He brought a little fruit home one day after walking the dog and after lots of research we came to the conclusion is was a cherry plum, I was so excited! We loaded up the common hogweed stems onto our bikes and cycled down to a set of garage lock ups in the village where the cherry plum tree was. I just so happened to have brought a little egg basket with me and we managed to fill it up to the brim with those juicy little plums. I noticed there were loads more higher up out of our reach so I made a note to come back with a ladder (and I managed to get another basket full!) I’ll be making some cherry plum jam and a tarte very soon so stayed tuned for recipes!
I have come to the conclusion that foraging is one the most fun things to do! It’s food… for free! I have never felt happier then returning home with a basket full of cherry plums and a bag full of common hogweed stems. It’s amazing that I’ve been living in this village all my life and never noticed all the elderflowers, plums, sloe berries and black berries that are dotted around. I’ll be off foraging next weekend for elderberries and blackberries, everything seems to be so early this year due to all the sunny weather we’ve been having. Not that I’m complaining, it just means more jam for the store cupboard and more yummy desserts