Hay Meadows at Cape Cornwall
There has been a serious decline in wildflower meadows - 97% of meadows in the UK have been lost since the 1930’s (Plantlife). In West Cornwall we have recognised sections of land where we can play our part in reversing this decline.
Since 2016 the West Cornwall countryside team started to manage some fields at Cape Cornwall as hay meadows, for the benefit of wildlife. In time they will become rich in wildflowers for a range of invertebrates such as butterflies and bees, which in turn will support birds and small mammals. Part of the management plan is to leave the fields to grow untouched through the spring and summer, cutting the fields for hay in late August/early September so that the flowers and their food source can be around for longer and to enable them to successfully set their seed for future years. At the time of cutting we also scatter green hay from some of our nearby fields to introduce the seeds of additional flower species, to increase the overall floral diversity.
The fields were visited in September 2017 by a bee expert, 6 rare species of solitary bee were recorded: Buff-tailed mining bee, black mining bee, Perkin’s mining bee, brown-banded carder bee, black-headed mining bee and the hawksbeard mining bee as well as the long-horned bee which has only been recorded in 7 locations in the UK! All these species live for around 5-6 weeks and fly in good weather conditions during the summer so they have a very limited time to find nearby pollen and nectar to be able to reproduce successfully. It appears that they have found their safe haven at Cape Cornwall. Managing fields as wildflower meadows with a good range of flora and long flowering season, like these at Cape Cornwall, is vital in supporting these rare bees.
We will be celebrating National Meadows day on the 6 July this year at Cape Cornwall. Come and have a go at the family Buzzing Bees trail - buzz around the meadow searching for 10 bee posts hidden amongst the wildflowers. Can you find them all and learn about the rare bees that call Cape Cornwall home?