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 –

“Bumblebees are one of the most endearing insect visitors to any garden. Their furry, colourful bodies and clumsy flight always raise a smile, but they also do an essential job. Without their pollination services many flowers would produce no seeds, and fruit and vegetable yields would suffer.”

Toby Buckland
TV gardener

Toby Buckland
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