Managing traditional orchards

Bumblebees and other wild bees are very important for orchards as they pollinate the trees while collecting pollen and nectar.

Bumblebees need pollen and nectar-rich flowers throughout their nesting season (March to late-September), and the blossom from fruit trees provides early food for bumblebees. This is particularly important for queen bumblebees coming out of hibernation in the spring. After this, bumblebees use flowers in the grassland beneath the trees, as well as in the hedges and edges around the orchard.

Traditional orchards have widely spaced trees of old varieties.  No chemical fertiliser should be applied and grassland management should mimic that of a traditional hay meadow to encourage wildflowers. Orchards can also be grazed in autumn and spring.

For more information on managing traditional orchards for bumblebees, click here to download our factsheet.

Please be aware that each site is unique and the recommended management approach will depend on local site conditions and the historical or traditional management regime. For site-specific advice, please contact your local Bumblebee Conservation Trust Conservation Officer –

"We are facing a fundamental problem with the decline of bees and other pollinators. They have an absolutely crucial role in pollinating many of our important crops - without them we will face higher food costs and potential shortages."

Professor Douglas Kell
BBSRC Chief Executive

View our Flickr
How Bee kind is your garden