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 – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding options for hedges and edges
Higher Level Stewardship (HLS)
HC18: Maintenance of high-value traditional orchards
HC20: Restoration of traditional orchards
HC19: Maintenance of traditional orchards in production
HC21: Creation of traditional orchards
Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS)
Open to all farmers, including those in the uplands, who manage all or part of their land organically, to deliver simple yet effective environmental management. OELS agreements are for 5 years.
Glastir is a 5 year whole farm sustainable land management scheme available to farmers and land managers across Wales.
Agri-environment schemes have operated in Scotland since 1987. These schemes have now closed to new applicants however some assistance may be gained through The Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP).
The SRDP is a programme, worth some £1.5 billion, designed to help develop rural Scotland. The programme is spread over six years and provides help and support to individuals, and groups, in order to help create a wealthier and fairer rural Scotland.
Some of the closed agriculture schemes will now be replaced by new 'funding packages,' operated by the SRDP. The SRDP also brings together a wide range of formerly separate support schemes in areas such as: farming, forestry, rural enterprise and business development.
The scheme is designed to help meet national economic, social and environmental targets; and it is hoped that the scheme will be of great benefit to rural communities.
Some of the SRDP schemes and initiatives include:
Crofting Counties Agricultural Grant Scheme
Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Grant Scheme
Forestry Commission Challenge Funds
The LEADER initiative
Less Favoured Area Support Scheme
Rural Development Contracts
Skills Development Scheme
“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.”
Naturalist, Television presenter
and BBCT President