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Pollinating the Peak around Blore Hall

Posted by Katy Peck on 3 June 2019
Related property: Blore Hall
Pollinating the Peak around Blore Hall

Have you spotted a busy bee buzzing around the beautiful grounds at Blore hall? With a bit of luck, we could be seeing a great deal more in the future.

Run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, ‘Pollinating the Peak’ is a fantastic project aimed at turning this part of the country into a pollination hotspot. The project highlights the importance of bumblebees and other wild pollinators, as well as creating and improving habitats and educating both locals and visitors on protecting these fantastic insects. Partners include numerous local councils, Peak District National Park, and Visit Peak District & Derbyshire.

Bumblebees help pollinate many of our crops, but their populations are declining rapidly. This is mainly due to loss of flower-rich habitat, although climate change, disease and pesticides are also major factors. The combination has caused a serious decline over recent years, with some serious knock-on effects. For example, did you know that one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat has been pollinated by a bee or similar insect? This means that fewer bees could have a major impact on food production.

In the Peak District this is a particular concern. This is partly because of the Bilberry bumblebee – a distinctive bumblebee with a red and yellow stripe across over half of its abdomen. Thanks to its love of cooler climates and moorlands, it is mainly found in the Peak District. In fact, there are no records at all in the South East! In the Peak District, the Bilberry bumblebee is listed as a National Park priority species.

Pollinating the Peak is an ambitious project based, as the name suggests, in the Peak District and Derbyshire. It combines science, education and community to improve awareness and conditions for the declining bumblebee population. As well as delivering workshops in schools and public places, encouraging bee-friendly gardening, enabling research and engaging the public, they are dedicated to completing more and more habitat work, creating more places that the bees can thrive within the Peaks.

Part of this work started in March 2019 at Hathersage Moors, around 50 minutes from Blore Hall. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Eastern Moors Partnership planted 1,000 bilberry plants across the moor. This vital food source is what gives the Bilberry bumblebee its name, but sheep and other grazing animals also find it particularly tasty. Their constant feeding stunts the plants' growth and limits what’s available to the bees, who prefer the mature plants.

In order to combat this, new plants have been planted across 60 acres of the moor, protected by special cages designed by Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Eastern Moors volunteers. These cages have been specifically created to blend in with the landscape while keeping away hungry grazers, and will remain in place until the plants are matured and established. As well as providing valuable habitat and food for the bees, this project will allow researchers to monitor the plants' growth and the impact on the bee population.

In addition, volunteers will identify and count bumblebees while walking a fixed route across the Moor each month between March and October 2019. After this, independent volunteers will continue monitoring bees regularly, as well as creating other flower-rich habitats throughout the National Park.

If you’d like to find out more about this inspiring project during your stay at Blore Hall, you’ll find the Pollinating the Peak team at many local fairs throughout the Peak District in 2019 (find a full calendar here). You can also find more information on the valuable work being done throughout the Peak District at their website.

For those of you who are interested in taking part in a BeeWalk, you can either sign up for a guided walk, or register to help track Britain’s bumblebees yourself (wherever you are!) here.

Standing in three acres of walled grounds, Blore Hall is the perfect place to truly appreciate the beauty of the Peak District and its fascinating wildlife. If you’re interested in experiencing the exquisite wild flower gardens, tranquil lake and beautiful rolling hills for yourself, just get in touch with our team.

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Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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