Restoring wildflowers at Woolston Moor

Our Conservation Officer for the South West, Jo Chesworth, has been working with the Bicknoller Bumblebee Conservation Group to provide habitat management advice and recommendations for the Woolston Moor wildlife site.

Together we are working to restore areas of wildflower rich habitat and help safeguard rare bumblebee species in the area.

  • Project summary

The Bicknoller Bumblebee Conservation Group was set up to undertake a range of activities to help conserve and expand the populations of bumblebees in the parish of Bicknoller, Somerset. 

The project plans include:

  1. Teaching local people to identify different types of bumblebee.
  2. Carrying out regular surveys around the parish following the BBCT BeeWalk methodology. 
  3. Increasing the amount of flower rich habitat in the local area which is very important for bumblebees.

This will be done in a number of ways including helping people make their gardens bee friendly and working with local landowners and farmers.

The unique heathland landscape nearby in the Quantock Hills AONB could also provide excellent bumblebee habitats. The group is also keen to enthuse the young people of the parish and develop their interest in nature and the environment.

Quantock Hills AONB

BBCT has been helping the group to develop management recommendations for a four hectare grassland site at Woolston Moor. The site is already well managed but, with a few revisions, this could be improved to ensure the meadow can support bees and other wild pollinators throughout the year.

Management options include the timing of the hay cut, leaving areas uncut until later in the year and ensuring that hedgerows provide important late and early forage sources.

This area of Somerset still has populations of some of the UK’s rarest bumblebees, including the Shrill carder bumblebee, and work to restore areas of wildflower rich habitat across the landscape is vital to safeguard these species.

  • Results

The group set up a stall at the local flower show and with help from a BBCT volunteer recruited a number of keen local people to be involved.   Jo gave an introductory talk about bumblebee ecology and identification at a group meeting, and the planned activities were discussed in more detail ready to begin in 2013. 

The management recommendations for Woolston Moor will be discussed with the farmer and parish council, with a view to implementation in 2013.  Opportunities for other habitat management projects in the area will also be followed up, and BeeWalk surveys will begin next season.

“Few people realise just how important bumblebees are. They are charming little things and a pleasure to see, but they also do an essential job which many people take for granted. If bumblebees continue to decline then we face ecological turmoil. Join BBCT today and support their important work.”

Chris Packham
Naturalist, Television presenter

Chris Packham
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Bee clued up