Chiswick bees hold the clue to a bad harvest

Local beekeeper Brian Whitley was speaking to us about the HUGE crop of apples on his tree this year. “We’ve never had such so many apples off these trees, is it the same all over Chiswick?” he asked us in early October. The answer was a resounding “No, quite the opposite!”. Abundance groups throughout London and the UK have all reported fewer apples than in previous years. In Chiswick we picked roughly a third of the trees compared to previous years and scaled down our school picking sessions and the annual fair.

Brian cast his mind back to the weather around the time the trees needed pollinating by bees. He recalled that the bees couldn’t fly beyond his garden because of the rain and wind in early April. It seems they could only pollinate the trees next to his hives which are in a small back garden in East Chiswick. No surprise that he was overwhelmed with apples, whilst tree owners several houses away reported the worst crop they have ever had. We had a taste of this year’s honey which Brian says is different because the bees couldn’t fly to as many gardens and varied flowers. Local residents flock to buy his honey for help in combating allergy. For more information email

The Guardian reported that “Throughout the UK, apple growers, cider-makers and gardeners are complaining about the worst apple yield for 15 years. The cold, rainy summer, which discouraged the bees from flying at crucial periods, has left many orchards bare and gloomy.  Common Ground, the environmental and art charity that promotes apple days and traditional varieties of apples, said orchard owners had been “throwing their hands up in horror” at the crop.”

We can only be grateful for abundance when it happens and let’s hope for a better crop next year.

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