A new practical guide to creating and managing habitats for the benefit of insect pollinators is available free to farmers, who are looking for tips on how to promote bees on their farm.
It has been produced by the partnership between Marek Nowakowski of the Wildlife Farming Company and Professor Richard Pywell of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
The guide, which is based on over 40 years of in-field experience and a 20-year research relationship between the two experts, outlines the actions required to help bees and other insect pollinators thrive on farmland.
Free of charge to farmers and agronomists, the 86-page book sets out the differences between honeybees, bumblebees and solitary bees, before outlining the key stages in their life cycles in terms of mating, nesting and feeding.
It then goes on to detail the plant species that make up food resources for bees and looks at the different types of seed mixes that farmers can sow to create pollinator habitat.
Mr Nowakowski commented that habitat quality and variety was the key to increasing biodiversity, adding that the right margins could be just as productive as the crops in terms of output.
“It’s what you do with the land, not the amount that you take out of production, which counts. Balancing profitable agriculture with practical conservation is perfectly possible – many farms are already proof of that.”
Balancing profitable agriculture with practical conservation is perfectly possible – many farms are already proof of that Marek Nowakowski, Wildlife Farming Company
He added that wildlife should be viewed as a crop. “You have to be trained to grow it successfully and get it to yield, through good management. We hope that our guide will help with that.”
Subsequent sections give guidance on where to locate pollinator habitat on-farm, the amount of habitat required, when and how to sow pollinator seed mixes and how to manage them for best effect.
Finally, the book discusses ways of funding wildlife habitat creation within a commercial farm business.
Speaking at the launch of the guide, Lord Selborne said that farmers had been tasked with increasing food resources, shelter and nest sites for pollinators in the countryside, so having independent guidance backed up by quality research was essential.
“This book is very timely,” he noted. “It presents workable and tested solutions to a pressing need.”
Wildlife can and must exist alongside modern farming techniques, he stressed. “Without profitable agriculture, the countryside will become derelict. The twin needs can be accommodated.”
Copies of Habitat Creation and Management for Pollinators can be downloaded free of charge from the CEH website.
For a printed version, send a stamped-addressed envelope (large letter size) with the correct postage of £1.54 to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BB, including a sheet of paper with your email address and telephone number.
For enquiries about more than one copy of the guide, or if you are outside the UK, email firstname.lastname@example.org