Bees Needs award for Ham Hill Country Park

Rangers from South Somerset District Council's Ham Hill Country Park have picked up a 'Bees Needs' award from Keep Britain Tidy, in conjunction with DEFRA, for the work they do to encourage the rare Shrill carder bumblebee to colonise at the site.

The Shrill carder bumblebee (Bombus sylvarum) is one of the UK's rarest bumblebees, with the species only present in a handful of places across Southern England and Wales.

The award was presented to Countryside Manager, Rachael Whaites and Assistant Countryside Ranger, Kat Perham in Kew Gardens (London) recently. The 'Bees Needs' award recognises the hard work undertaken to encourage the Shill carder bumblebee to colonise at Ham Hill Country Park, as part of the 'Back from the Brink' project.

During the spring of 2018, rangers at Ham Hill were visited by Daisy Headley from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to look at how the grassland at Ham Hill could be better managed for a rare species of bumblebee, the Shrill carder. The visit identified Ham Hill as a potential site for the Shrill carder to colonise. 

Speaking about Ham Hill Country Park as a colony site for the Shrill carder bumblebee, Paul McNeill, Countryside Ranger said: "The meadows at Ham Hill were already good for pollinators and are managed with a traditional hay cut in late July, followed by sheep grazing during the winter.  However, Shrill carder bumblebees emerge later in the year than most other bee species and so we worked alongside our tenant grazier to change the cutting schedules in the meadows to encourage flowers to have a second flowering period later in the year.  Later flowering fields combined with the tussocky grass margins, will make this an ideal spot for Shrill carder bumblebees to thrive."

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Culture at South Somerset District Council, said: "It's estimated that pollinators contribute about £600 million to the UK economy annually through the pollination of crops, so we are very happy with this award which recognises the hard work of rangers, volunteers and also the tenant grazier, Nick, at the site."

Daisy Headley from Bumblebee Conservation said, "It's wonderful to see the vital work going on at Ham Hill getting the recognition it thoroughly deserves. The Shrill carder bumblebee requires lots of flower-rich habitat. Through a team effort between landowners, managers, volunteers and grazier, that is exactly what they will be getting at Ham Hill. Ham Hill is a lovely country park that provides for many species and attracts many visitors each year. I hope that it will not be long before the rare Shrill carder bumblebee is buzzing about for all to see.

LG + South Somerset District Council (1 Of 1)

Above: Left, Rachael Whaites (Countryside Manager) and Kat Perham (centre) receive the Bees Need award at Kew Gardens in London. The awards ceremony also had various speakers who specialise in bees and pollination about the work and research that is ongoing to help protect pollinating insects in the future.