Getting a buzz out of first bees for 100 years

Mike Edwards of Operation Pollinator.
Mike Edwards of Operation Pollinator.

One of the UK’s most important crop pollinating bee species has been found on the Nocton Estate of Beeswax Farming, owned by vacuum cleaner inventor Sir James Dyson - the first find of the species in Lincolnshire for over 100 years.

Beeswax Farming has been voluntarily creating new habitats of wildflowers and food resources with seed development firm Syngenta and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment to create vibrant habitats that are more attractive to pollinating insects, alongside its commercial farming operations.

With the identification of the Andrena nitida bee among the crops, their work has demonstrated that farmers’ positive action can make a real difference to increase both the numbers and the diversity of important pollinator species.

Bee entomology specialist, Mike Edwards, said the bee has not been sighted in Lincolnshire since 1900, although it is relatively widespread through the south of England.

He said: “It is very encouraging that habitat creation on farmland is helping some of these solitary bee species to recover in numbers, and to extend their range across the UK.”

He added: “Andrena nitida is one of the many solitary mining bee species that play such an important part in pollinating crops and wildflowers.

“They look very much like honeybees. However, their behaviour on flowers, and the fact they carry large amounts of dry pollen as they fly from flower to flower, makes them extremely efficient pollinators.

“Providing new food resources and refuges for nesting and overwintering can clearly bring results, as well as providing a hugely beneficial habitat for other pollinators and wealth of biodiversity.”