Stretching across 12,000 acres and forming a huge part of the unique biodiversity of the Estate, it’s no mean feat to keep them all healthy and hazard free.
Guardians of the Forest
On our Estate we have a dedicated Rural team who look after all the trees. They’re led by Nick, who began his career as an apprentice at Blenheim and is now the Rural Manager overseeing all the work his team carries out.
Day to day jobs for the team include management of the woodland portfolio within our Parkland and the wider Estate, while also planting, maintaining, and enhancing the natural landscape. Being a part of the Rural team can be physically demanding and involves working outside in all weather conditions, so it’s not for the faint of heart!
It’s a Climber’s Life for Me!
As well as surveying from the ground, the team also need to get up in the air. Using a rope system, the team work together to climb the trees. Amongst other reasons, it can be done to check the health of the tree…and get a better view of the bees living in it.
Buzz at Blenheim
Over the past few years our Rural team have been working with Filipe Salbany, Bee Conservationist, to check for wild Honeybee hives. The bees, which had never been found before Filipe began his research on the Estate, thrive within our ancient oaks. The Rural team help Filipe with his research, note possible nesting sites, help with swarms, and build log hives.
We have the largest collection of ancient oaks in Europe and the oldest of these is over 1,000 years old, which means it was a sapling when William the Conqueror was a child. The age of these natural giants means that sometimes accidents happen.
Although it doesn’t happen often, sometimes our Rural team must respond to fallen branches or, even worse, fallen trees. Last summer, three of the team got a call to say a branch had fallen opposite the Walled Garden entrance. When the team arrived, they realised it was a branch of considerable size…and home to some of the bees. With Filipe called, the team set to finding the Queen to coax her into a temporary hive, from where she and the rest of her colony could be taken to a new part of the Estate.