Making homes for bees at Kinver Edge
By scraping back soil, we've been helping important pollinators to make their homes amongst the tiny grassland plants of Kinver Edge
Tiny plants and busy bees
From a distance it looks like a freshly mowed lawn, but get on your hands and knees on the grassland of Kinver Edge and you’ll see the greenery is made up of lots of tiny, delicate plants. These plants love the acid, low-nutrient conditions here, and in spring and summer they bloom into a carpet of reds (sheep sorrel), pinks (common storksbill) and whites (birdsfoot pea). Thanks to the sandy soils there’s lots of plants here that you normally find at the seaside, like sand spurrey, which is rare in the Midlands.
There’s also tiny holes in the sand – these are the homes of bees that tunnel down into the ground to make their nests. When it rains the bees plug these holes up to keep the water out! Instead of living in a colony, these bees are solitary and the females raise their young alone.
How we're helping
In the past farm waste has been dumped on these important wildlife spaces, which has given brambles and nettles the nutrients they need to thrive and crowd out the special acid grassland plants. The Ranger team are scraping back the top layer of earth to reveal the sandy ground below again, and creating miniature cliffs, facing south to allow the bees to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Visitors also help by trampling the grass, and even dogs get involved by digging fresh scrapes in the earth.
Working with our partners
To learn how to look after the grassland for bees we went to visit the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust team at neighbouring Highgate Common. Now we have experts monitoring the insects here to check on the success of our project, and we recently hosted an invertebrate course for National Trust rangers from around the country thanks to our focus on bees here at Kinver Edge.