A group of farmers in Wales have teamed up with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to create a haven for bumblebees, in an effort to boost their numbers.
Bumblebees play a crucial role in providing pollination for vegetables, fruits, oilseeds and several other crops that are important for human survival. The pollination the bees provide for the crops of farmers helps to fertilize them, and in turn, puts food on our plates. However due to a decline in bee numbers over the past seventy years, several organisations and farmers are looking to fight back.
To begin the process, the team at the Bumble Bee Conservation trust identified the best methods that farmers could take to increase pollinator numbers, by using previous data they had gathered between 2018 and 2020. On a stretch across their 25 member farms, the team have created flower-rich habitats for the bees to feed on, which in turn could help to increase bumble bee numbers. Following guidelines published in ‘A guide to Pollinator friendly grassland farming’, the new habitats could include elements such as legume-rich agricultural keys which can be used to increase the coverage area of flowers, and therefore helping to increase bumble bee numbers. The farmers are also looking to increase the availability of bumblebee nest habitats wherever they can, as well as increasing pollen sources through the encouragement of flower growth.
By creating a ‘safe-haven’ for the bees, it will encourage an increase in the growth of other invertebrates such as honeybees, solitary bees and butterflies, as well as other beneficial insects such as ladybirds and hoverflies.
Here is what one farmer had to say about the initiative:
Calon Wen farmer, David Edge said “During the three years, it has become easier to manage the grassland for pollinators. Multispecies leys are becoming the new normal and leaving some strips uncut is fairly simple, with even the contractor mowers understanding what is required. It has become automatic, and has made no noticeable difference to crop yields one way or the other. I am definitely a fan of doing what I can to conserve bumblebees and with the exciting new project Calon Gwenyn underway, Calon Wen farmers are truly collaborating in nature conservation.”