Pig farming brothers set themselves one million bumblebee target
- Credit: Dingley Dell Pork
Two Suffolk farming brothers and an Essex butcher are aiming to feed a million bumblebees this year to help reverse the decline in these vital pollinators.
Pig and arable farmers Mark and Paul Hayward, of Dingley Dell Pork, near Woodbridge, have sown 33 hectares - the equivalent of 83 football pitches - of nectar-rich plants around their land.
The wild flower mixes include Phacelia, Clover and Mallow, which are planted in blocks between rows of pig arcs and in fields.
A trial last year showed up to 12 bumblebees could be seen feeding in each square metre of the wild flowers so the brothers are confident they can reach their one million bee target.
“Modern life has pushed nature to the fringes,” said Paul. “Farmers can help restore this balance starting with a diversity of plants. If you have this diversity the bumblebees and other insects, then birds and mammals, will follow.”
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Around 400 to 500 chefs visit the farm every year, and are impressed by their conservation measures, he said.
The project has been set up in partnership with Essex-based catering butchers Direct Meats, which is based in Chappel.
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Managing director Martin Blackwell said it was a privilege to be involved in helping to shape the way in which the pork his company sells is produced.
“We must protect and enhance our bumblebees and native species,” he said.
Bees’ numbers are threatened by urbanisation, pesticides, viruses and climate change. It’s estimated that around a third of the world’s food is dependent on bees and other pollinators.
According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, many types of bumblebee in the UK have seen their populations decline by 70% and two species have become extinct in the last century.
The Dingley Dell initiative has been welcomed by Compassion in World Farming.
The charity’s chief executive Philip Lymbery said: “Providing food for a million bees is an incredible aim and I applaud all those involved for their enthusiasm and commitment to animal welfare and the environment”
The project is being audited by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, and progress towards the one million bee target can be followed on Instagram @amillionbeesonfarm.