Today is World Bee Day and with summer quickly approaching, we thought it would be a great time to get to know the Manager of the Garden and Estates team.

From managing and maintaining the grounds of the hotel, to growing fresh produce that can be used all over the resort and working with the local volunteers in the Hurworth community to help protect the bees, Phil Mennell and his team have a busy but important role within the Rockliffe team.

Bee engaged!

Importance of World Bee Day

World Bee Day aims to spread the awareness and significance of bees. Pollination is a essential process for the survival of our ecosystems.

According to the United Nations "Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend, entirely, or at least in part, on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land".

What could you do to help at home? 

  • Buying raw honey from local farmers
  • Buying products from sustainable agricultural practices
  • Plant a variety of native plants, which will flower at different times of the year
  • Avoid buying pesticides, fungicides or herbicides for your garden
  • Protect bee colonies
  • Sponsor a hive
  • Make a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside

Rockliffe's role in helping to save the Bees!

Phil explains the Garden & Estates team's role in helping the bees

"With help from the Eco People in Croft and Hurworth (EPICH) community volunteer group, the team and I can do our bit to help save our the bees.

We took some of the waste material from the site of the Walled Garden to create a safe space to protect the beehives. The idea is to plant a wildflower meadow right the way across so there will be even more easily accessible pollinators on site for the bees. It’s all about self-sustainability for us, so if we can encourage the bees to stay on site, it will be beneficial for everyone involved.

The team and I have plans to expand each year, encouraging more queens and swarms to do their thing at Rockliffe. It's very physically demanding, but equally rewarding and of course, good for the environment. The EPICH team tends to check in on the hives every three days to ensure the queen is healthy, to check for disease, and generally keep an eye on the honey. They’ll take some of the fuller frames out and add new ones to encourage the bees to keep working".

We’re delighted to say that thanks to Phil, the gardening team and the EPICH team, we now have 10 working beehives in the resort which will provide the very best environment for our little friends to produce our very own Rockliffe honey.''

Getting to know Phil

What does a typical day for the Estates & Gardens team look like? 

"If we’re not out and about on machinery, you’ll find us in our equipment shed or in the Potting Shed - this is where it all happens." Says Phil. "It’s where we sew the produce and where we’ll get together to plan the day’s activities. It’s our hub and it’s where pretty much everything comes into fruition."

Favourite thing about your job? 

"I would have to say that every day is different, there is so much variation to Rockliffe Hall estate that you never seem to be doing the same job day after day".

Advice for gardeners 

What's your top gardening tip?

"Simplify it! So many people over think and complicate things, know your garden, plan and be organised - and most of all enjoy it".

Best produce to start growing in spring? 

Spring is a great time to plan what you would like to grow in your garden and/or greenhouse. Tomato plants must be the best to grow now for me due to the quick growth rate from seed to plant and many months of constant supplies of fresh tasty tomatoes.

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