To enhance conditions for bees, the Howbery team will have to meet a set of objectives set by Nurture (which maintains its grounds) and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust over the next year. These include introducing ‘homes’ for wildlife, buying certain ‘bee-friendly’ plants, using peat free compost, and putting up information boards about bees.
When the park completes this year’s objectives, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust logo will be inscribed on the blank petal of a flower-shaped award. The park will then choose another area of biodiversity – such as butterflies, insects, birds, amphibians or wildflowers – to focus on for the following year to gain its next petal.
“Encouraging biodiversity is very important to Howbery Park,” Howbery Park Estates manager Donna Bowles explained. “We are seeking to make the most of our lovely landscape for our tenants, and that includes supporting nature. We have already developed diverse habitats ranging from ornamental flowers to wildflower areas, and we wish to further this work. Concentrating on bees is an obvious starting point in the biodiversity awards for our park, as we introduced beehives for honey bees on site in 2016.”
Beehives were introduced after an aggregation of Ivy mining bees was discovered at Howbery Park in 2013. Ivy mining bees are a relative newcomer to the UK and were first spotted in Dorset in 2001.
As part of the new initiative, the Howbery gardeners will record sightings of all bees and encourage its tenants to do so too. There are currently 24 species of bumblebee in the UK – two species became extinct in the last 80 years and eight are endangered.
Nurture’s Business Development and Biodiversity Manager Simon Blackley said: “When asked to improve biodiversity where do you start? Nurture has started a scheme which aims to improve biodiversity in small steps and raise awareness of some of the smaller conservation organisations. There are very few other awards that look specifically at improving biodiversity in the gardens and grounds that we maintain. Nurture has created this award so that we can clearly demonstrate significant biodiversity improvements.”
Bumblebee Conservation Trust CEO Gill Perkins, said “We’re delighted to see Howbery Business Park taking such impressive steps to help wildlife, in particular the bees. Introducing ‘homes’ for wildlife and planting the right flowers will provide food for our important pollinators. We very much look forward to seeing the results in the grounds.”