Carymoor Environmental Trust

Creating a habitat for the Shrill Carder Bee

 

The habitat

The decline of the Shrill Carder Bee has occurred because of habitat loss and degradation, including intensive grassland management and loss of arable field margins, so in order to help the species we aim to turn an area of our grassland into a habitat rich in wild flowers. The 4.4 acre site is close to the visitor centre at Carymoor.Preparing the site for the shrill carder bee

Shrill Carder Bees are active from about April to September, so we need to include a variety of species with as long a flowering season as possible to provide nectar and pollen throughout the season.

In October 2013 we prepared the site by removing the layer of topsoil. This may seem to be a strange thing to do, but the richer the soil in a meadow, the fewer plant species there will be as the rich soil allows the faster growing and more robust plants to grow quickly, crowding out the smaller or slower growing species. By removing the topsoil we will reduce the fertility and hopefully keep the coarse species in check.

The plants

During the spring of 2014 we erected a new polytunnel which we are using to establish new plug plants which will be planted out in the meadow area. On 29th April and 6th May our Tuesday volunteer group planted out over 1000 plug plants from the polytunnel. wildflowers for the shrill carder bee

We purchased some wildflower seed from Habitat Aid, a local firm that supplies all manner of plants and seeds to support biodiversity. The seed came from a site in Dorset which has very good diversity and the seed mix is around 70% wildflower seed. We had to wait for the clay to dry out so that we could harrow the areas of the meadow where the vegetation had been cleared and plant the seed. Because of the exceptional rainfall earlier in the year this was only done at the end of June.

The Shrill Carder Bee feeds on nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers, particularly complex ones and those that have a long corolla (flower tube), such as knapweed, vetches, clovers and dead-nettles. We will be growing plants like common knapweed, bird's foot trefoil, yellow rattle, field scabious, viper's bugloss, and common vetch.

Of course it's not only the Shrill Carder Bee that will benefit from this project - a meadow rich in wildflowers is bound to attract many other species of invertebrates like bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

 

  Viridor Credits Bumblebee Conservation Trust   Habitat Aid Centaur Services Somerset County Council