Village a hive of activityfor bee-inspired event

Date: Friday 3rd July 2015

A BUMBLEBEE walk and “bee-tea” were held at Great Musgrave on Sunday.

Around 30 people, including eight children, met on Musgrave church field, by the River Eden, close to St. Theobald’s Church.

Mandy Oliver, from the North Pennines AONB Partnership, was the group’s guide. Mandy is a community officer in the AONB’s Nectarworks Project, which aims to enthuse, educate and enable communities to take action for bumblebees and other pollinators by restoring and increasing flower-rich habitats.

Unfortunately, changes in agricultural techniques and reductions in wild flower habitats are decreasing bee numbers in many places.

As the rain cleared and the sun came out, Mandy first described the fascinating life of the many species of bee and how to identify them.

The group then set out through the colourful hay meadow by the river, into the churchyard, then up Church Lane to the village and finally to the panoramic viewpoint over the Upper Eden Valley.

On the walk, five different species of bee were identified. Garden bees were feeding on the pollen of foxgloves and tree bumblebees nesting in the rear wall of the church. These recent arrivals to Britain from Europe (in 2001) nest in holes in trees, but also in bird boxes and under house eaves. They are spreading rapidly north, and now to Scotland. Red-tailed bees were feeding on the extensive yellow rattle in the meadow a lovely black bee with a bright red tail.

Early bumblebees, a small bee with a little reddish tail, were seen on the snowberry on the way up to the viewpoint. Common carder bumblebees, a long-tongued brown bee that likes to make its nest just above the ground in tussocky grass, were feeding on bush vetch on Church Lane.

The group then returned to the restored Musgrave Tithe Barn, for children’s bee activities and a splendid bumblebee inspired bee-tea.

There were two tables, one with produce that had been pollinated, and the other with items which had not. It was a most enjoyable and informative afternoon. Everybody left with advice about how to encourage bees in their own neighbourhoods.