Miniature sheep help East Riddlesden beekeepers

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Staff and volunteer beekeepers from Airedale Beekeepers at East Riddlesden Hall in West Yorkshire, have welcomed five new hard-working residents to help them encourage more native wild flowers to grow on the estate.

The new residents are Hebridean and North Ronaldsay sheep, who have been drafted in to start exhausting the current dominant grasses. The two varieties of sheep are both tough breeds, having evolved to live in the rugged, windswept and beautiful Scottish Islands.

The plan for a native, flower-rich, pesticide-free habitat will support the pollinating insects that reside at the on-site apiary. A staggering three out of every five mouthfuls of food we eat require pollination, so projects like this are vital for providing the insects with the right habitat.

Shelley Hollingdrake, our community and learning officer for East Riddlesden Hall said: 'As a country we desperately need to protect our pollinating insects. Britain's bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths have evolved over millions of years alongside our native flora, they need each other to exist. The work that we are doing will help support this vital habitat and our resident bees.'

To further benefit the area, dry stone walling volunteers at East Riddlesden Hall have been mending the walls near the sheep meadow and on-site apiary, while also including some new bee boles in the build.