Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Coquetdale Group, December meeting

This month, Geoff Dobbins, senior estates officer for the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, gave the members of the Coquetdale Group a fascinating talk about bees and other pollinating insects.

Geoff created the Beequest project a few years ago when he became interested in learning about honey-bee colonies. He realised that their favoured hay meadows were a dwindling habitat and took over the management of a number of Trust sites so that he could cultivate an environment that would attract all kinds of wildlife, but in particular, bees.

With the help of some volunteers, Geoff cut back the grass, learnt how to make hay and removed invasive plants.

This provided space for seeds to grow, thereby developing lots of flowers and nectar for insects. Ongoing funding has enabled the work to continue, with the planting of border shrubs and hedges.

These enclosed areas have created a micro-climate, which now generates nectar throughout the growing season.

Livestock was also introduced to help maintain grass levels. Soon the fields developed marsh orchids, yellow rattle, scabious, ox eye daisies, cat’s ears, and tufted vetch, attracting common blue butterflies, bumblebees, burnet moths and more.

For creating your own mini meadows in gardens at home, it is recommended to plant omfrey, fennel, angelica, foxgloves, sea holly and dahlias, together with willow, hazel, apple trees and ivy.

All are a rich and varied source of nectar and adding some colour to attract insects.

Buddleia is tremendously popular with butterflies, bees and other insects. Also, leave dandelions to flower to provide a rich nectar source for wildlife to enjoy.

Everyone is encouraged to get out and about, especially with children, to learn about the bees and beasties in the garden.

The next Northumberland Wildlife Trust meeting will be on Monday, January 5, when the Coquetdale Group will be treated to a talk from John Steele about his Scottish Wildlife Sketchbook.