Northumberland Wildlife Trust is delighted to have received a third cash grant from The Co-operative Membership to help improve its nature reserves for bees through its BeeQuest Project.
This is the third cash grant for the trust for its bees project. Bees are highly effective pollinators of a wide range of wild flowers and crops and therefore have considerable ecological and economic importance. All types of bees have suffered a very serious reduction in numbers in recent decades and all but six of the UK’s 25 bumble bee species have been in decline since the 1960s. Honey bee populations have also been affected by a range of threats.
In 2010, the Trust received £5,000 from the Co-operative Membership enabling it to run educational activities in schools whilst undertaking habitat improvements at four sites to benefit a wide range of species, including native bees. In 2011, an additional £3,000 allowed the wildlife charity to further improve conditions for bees at five more of its reserves: East Cramlington Pond, Holywell Pond, South Close Field at Riding Mill and Whittle Dene Reservoirs in Central Northumberland.
Now, a further £3,000 from the Co-op Membership Plan Bee project will enable the wildlife charity to continue with its programme of further site improvements such as grass cutting, hay making, scrub thinning, conservation grazing and wildflower planting on existing bee sites, which will also result in better conditions for other wildlife such as butterflies and birds.
At East Cramlington Pond, a team of volunteers will continue coppicing willows to improve the meadow and pond as well as making improvements to the apiary; whilst at Holywell Pond, further planting of shrubs and trees will create better nesting sites for bumblebees adjacent to the meadows.
The Trust’s South Close Field reserve at Riding Mill is a relic of wildflower-rich grassland, now quite rare in Northumberland. Over the past few years, Estates officers and volunteers have worked tirelessly to improve the range of wildflowers on the site to attract more bees and butterflies, and the additional funding will enable this work to continue.
The additional funding has facilitated the installation of a new hive on one of the small islands at the Trust’s Hauxley reserve, and it will now be able to train a fifth bee keeper to help manage the hives on the designated sites.