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Sow seeds now to support swarming bee surge

Stewardship
26.05.2017
Honey bee swarm
Honey bees have been swarming at unprecedented levels this season, as colony numbers build up rapidly after a benign winter

Bee numbers are swarming at unprecedented levels in the hot, dry weather.  Both bumblebee and honey bee colonies are reported to be regenerating and spreading rapidly.

In the south of England, Newbury & District Bee Keepers Association’s swarm collectors have been repeatedly called out - up to 10 times a day, for example. Whilst many of the calls prove to be for bumblebee colonies, such is the number of honey bee swarms that members’ hives are at full capacity.

“We seem to be inundated with swarms this year,” according to N&DBKA Chair, Jan Doyle.

“We are really struggling to find hives to home them all, and it’s still only May.”

Hiving swarm of bees

Large numbers of honey bee swarms have been collected early in the season this year, enabling beekeepers to fill hives to capacity

The relatively benign winter was believed to have helped with bee colony survival, and pre-empted early swarming as colony numbers built up.

Syngenta Environmental Initiatives Manager, Belinda Bailey, highlighted a similar picture with bumblebee populations, further aided by farmers’ wide scale provision of valuable feeding and nesting habitat.  

“Farmers have had an incredibly positive action for pollinators. They can still make a difference to support the increasing numbers of bees this season, by sowing the Operation Pollinator Bees’n’Seeds mix now.”

The Bees’n’Seeds mix will provide late-season pollen and nectar feed going into the autumn, which will help queens to build a viable nest to overwinter for the spring. It is also designed to provide seeds to support farmland bird populations.  

Bees n Seeds mix

Belinda pointed out that farmers have sown over 1600 hectares of a range of Syngenta Operation Pollinator seed mixes in recent years – a level Independent ecologists calculate would have a significantly beneficial impact on pollinating insect numbers across 55,000 hectares of farmland.  

Belinda reports that most farmers’ orders have been placed for a combination of the Operation Pollinator Annual Wildflower mix and the Bees’n’Seeds mix.

“That’s a great combination to give a diversity of habitat and a progression of pollen and nectar feed sources for bees and other insects,” she advised.

“Whilst there is still time to sow the Bees’nSeeds mix into good seedbed conditions for this season, we would advocate that growers now wait until the autumn to sow the Annual Wildflower mix.”

Bumblebee on OSR

Bumblebees have also enjoyed a prolific start to the season and are present in high numbers - providing flowering margins and habittas will help more to survive through the winter. 

The mixes have been designed by environmental and agri-seed specialists, Kings, with special offers available on the Syngenta Operation Pollinator mixes. 

For more information or to order Syngenta offer seed mixes, contact Kings on 0800 587 9797 or email [email protected]