Building a Hurdle Fence for the Whatley Bees

Our Bee Journey

As many of you may know, we have maintained bee hives at Whatley for several years now. This winter they have been diligently tended to by beekeeper, John Stevens. Throughout the winter months, John has been meticulously caring for them, ensuring their well-being. After careful consideration, we decided the time was right to relocate the bees to a more optimal location within our gardens. Our aim is to place them in an environment where they can truly flourish, while also offering our guests the opportunity to observe them safely. We have selected an area bathed in sunlight, surrounded by an abundance of bee-friendly flowers, ensuring a plentiful supply of nectar and pollen.

John collaborated with our gardening team to find the ideal location for the bees’ new abode. This sparked inspiration in Luke  and as part of the process of moving the hives, Luke decided to introduce a hurdle fence to the bee area with the support of the garden team. We are really proud of this project and we look forward to seeing our bees thrive in their new environment.

This is how Luke and the garden team managed the hurdle project.

“Historically, hurdle fences were constructed by weaving branches or flexible wood into a frame to create a barrier. These early hurdle fences were used primarily for containing livestock or marking boundaries. Over time, the design and construction of hurdle fences evolved to meet different needs and applications.

Taking this idea further, Luke used the concept of a hurdle fence to enclose the Whatley bees. He achieved this by foraging for materials on-site. Foraging reduced the garden teams environmental impact, as new material did not need to be purchased, eliminating carbon miles associated with this project. Furthermore, there wasn’t any waste generated, which mitigated environmental harm.

Luke began this project by coppicing straight lengths of hazel to use as upright stakes. The bottom of the hazel stakes were then pointed. The hazel stakes were then set apart at meter intervals and driven into the ground, one foot deep. This provided the stability required for the hurdle. Terracotta pots were then laid on the ground to allow free movement of small mammals.Fallen brash and limbs, generated from Storms Henk and Isha, were used to fill up hurdle, by laying it horizontally and then compressing all the material.

Once filled, it was capped with a willow rail to hold all of the material in. A gate was then built, which was lashed with willow, to enter and leave the bee hurdle. As this decomposes, we will add to this over the years, which means that garden waste will be continually added to it and therefore continually reducing the teams environmental impact. Clematis armandii, was planted on either side of the completed hurdle, this evergreen plant is favoured by bee’s.

Benefits of a natural hurdle fence:

The natural beauty and rustic charm of the hurdle complements the Arts and Crafts style of the gardens and complements the surrounding landscape

It is highly durable and long-lasting due to it’s construction, withstanding harsh weather conditions, decay and resisting rot

The renewable and sustainable materials used, results in an ecologically sound structure, which furthers the sustainability efforts of the hotel

Conventional fences containing plastic and the associated PFAS, is eliminated, therefore, preventing the contamination of environment

Natural air gaps in the fence, result in a better windbreak than conventional fences

A diverse range of wildlife is encouraged, as the hurdle provides shelter, feeding opportunities for insects, birds and small mammals, therefore contributing to a thriving ecosystem within the garden. Furthermore, wildlife, such as hedgehogs and squirrels, are able to move freely within the green space, which acts as a green corridor.”


Huge thanks to:

John Stevens –  Beekeeper

Michael Adams and his team, Luke, Vladimir and Fiona




From 24th - 26th December the Whatley Manor will be closed to non residents. If you need to contact us please send an email to and one of the team will respond. Thank you