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Quinta Das Abelhas

10 hectares overlooking the Estrela Mountains in Central Portugal

Once an abandoned pine monoculture land, the land is slowly turning to a mixed forest with greater diversity and is a haven for pollinators, with an emphasis on the honey bee.  With much observation at the start, strategic land interventions were made and we witnessed how the transformation of human-abused ecosystems can transform quickly. A big shift occurred when rapidly the pine monoculture died from the nematode disease so, section by section, this was removed. This allowed the dormant native trees to reawaken and oak, chestnut and alder buckthorn to come through at a much faster rate. The land slowly started to reforest itself alongside our own planting of different species for even greater diversity.​

 

We composted, green-manured, mulched and applied water retention strategies such as swales over the land. Over time there was an increase in the number and diversity of wildflowers, plants and insects. This has led to many more pollinators, bugs, butterflies, worms and bees and increased bird life. Highlights have been seeing the hoopoe rearing their young and bats breeding on the land.

 

A particular passion is for the honey bees and supporting their health. They naturally swarm onto the land and over the years we have been experimenting with different hives such as the log hive and double insulated top bars and langstroth homes so they have to work less on maintaining the consistent temperature they require to survive.  

Over the years, neighbour's horses passed by the land which was our exploration into regenerative grazing. This opened up the land to new potential, in particular, we have seen the increase of mushroom and bug life, the manure enriching soil and land life.

Each year the food and herb growing area expands, we share food within our neighbours  and we become more local in all our food purchases.

The next phase focuses on improved water irrigation systems required to prepare for more tree and shrub planting, alongside the thinning of the pioneer plants to create more space for this. Then fencing is required for the land in order that sheep can be introduced to the land for grazing to improve soil health. 

What's Happening

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