Yesterday, High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Amanda Ponsonby and husband, food and drink entrepreneur, Rupert, came to FarmED with Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), for a farm walk and talk. They were joined by acclaimed gardening writer Robin Lane Fox, Sharn from Mark’s Cotswold Bakery, who gave a talk on baking, reflecting the importance of pollinators in our food chain and Esme and Tanya from Therapi Honey Skincare, who have established a natural beehive project at FarmED and talked about wild honeybees.
They were all impressed with the diversity of bumblebee species in our fields. The BBCT reports how bumblebees are in trouble, with two species already extinct and most of the rest declining fast. Gill recognised the importance of habitats and flowering species that provide pollen and nectar on farms as well as the huge potential of the 1000,000 hectares of gardens in this country and she captured a red- tailed bumblebee to show how the males can be identified as they have a little yellow moustache! In return, we showed her the carbon capturing ability of our pollinator friendly herbal ley. A win, win. Feeding the bees and feeding the soil!
The first ever event we held at Honeydale Farm, back in 2015, was a Pollinator Walk, when we looked at the roles of pollinators, their habitats, why these have declined and how we can conserve them. The fields that surround FarmED are full of flowers and grasses designed to encourage bumblebees, honeybees and other pollinators so it was great to welcome those with an interest in their conservation again yesterday. We’re looking forward to inviting schoolchildren to learn more about the BeeWalks and BeeWatches, two monitoring schemes which BBCT runs to collect data to help save our bumblebees.