One of the UK’s most important crop pollinating bee species has been found in Lincolnshire for the first time in more than a century. The Andrena nitida, was identified in a new Syngenta Operation Pollinator habitat area created by Beeswax Farming on its Nocton Estate, owned by Sir James Dyson.
Reporting the exciting find, bee entomology specialist, Mike Edwards, highlighted this was the first sighting of Andrena nitida in Lincolnshire since 1900, although it is relatively widespread through the south of England.
“It is very encouraging that habitat creation on farmland is helping some of these solitary bee species to recover in numbers, and to extend their range across the UK.” He highlighted that the Beeswax site had incorporated a wide range of ecological features beneficial to all bees.
“Andrena nitida is one of the many solitary mining bee species that play such an important part in pollinating crops and wildflowers,” he said. “They look very much like honeybees. However, their behaviour on flowers, and the fact they carry large amounts of dry pollen as they fly from flower to flower, makes them extremely efficient pollinators.
“Providing new food resources and refuges for nesting and overwintering can clearly bring results, as well as providing a hugely beneficial habitat for other pollinators and wealth of biodiversity,” he added.
Mr Edwards cited the increased diversity of the flower species now included in the Operation Pollinator Annual Wildflower Mix as being especially important for solitary bees. The Andrena nitida at Beeswax, for example, was recorded a number of times on the newly included Corn Chamomile. The wildflowers have provided an additional food resource and encourage bee populations, alongside oilseed rape and the increased area of field beans over the past season.
Beeswax Farming was delighted to have found the bee on the estate, as a testament to its commitment to enhance biodiversity. It welcomed the results of the independent monitoring of new wildflower field margins and designated ecological areas it had created entirely voluntarily on the farm.
The farming company has been working closely with Syngenta and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) to create vibrant habitats that are more attractive to pollinating insects.
Lincolnshire CFE coordinator, Barney Parker, added: “It is extremely exciting and rewarding that the investment and effort is paying dividends, in helping to increase the biodiversity and ecological value of the farm.
“The wildflower areas have been literally buzzing with insect activity all through the summer. The sheer number of insects identified in the new habitats, along with the great diversity of species, is a clear indication that the positive action taken for pollinators, alongside its farming practices, can produce real benefits.”
Syngenta Operation Pollinator research and growers’ experiences have shown establishing annual wildflowers can play an incredibly important role in helping pollinators, alongside other ecological features, including perennial pollen and nectar mixes, hedgerows and grass margins.
Belinda Bailey, Syngenta UK environmental initiatives manager, added: “Beeswax Farming is a great example of the farmers who have been highly successful in providing a more diverse range of pollinator friendly habitats for food and overwinter nest sites.
“It is an extremely powerful demonstration that productive commercial farming and positive ecological management can co-exist in the same field.”