Solar Beehives are here!
Just a few days after World Bee Day, it gives everyone here at WWCE great pleasure in celebrating the arrival of our new beehives at our Chelworth solar farm. But these aren’t just any beehives….
As part of our biodiversity mission we have teamed up with the Naturesave Trust on the ‘Solar Bee Project’. Our Chelworth site, which is adjacent to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Blakehill Farm Nature Reserve, was recently selected as one of only four new solar farms in the country to introduce a new type of beehive to the UK. The Thermosolar hive is designed to protect honey bees from the parasitic Varroa mite. Unfortunately Varroa is one of the main causes of bee colony losses worldwide and chemical treatments are often ineffective and they can be harmful to the bees as well as leading to increasing pesticide resistance. The Thermosolar hive is cleverly designed to use the sun to raise the internal temperature of the hive to a temperature that kills the mite but does not harm the bees.
This is a great step for WWCE as part of its mission to actively promote biodiversity through the management of our solar sites. The fact that these new types of hives use solar energy to remove the need for chemicals in maintaining the health of the bees is a great fit with the WWCE mission. There is plenty of nectar from the flowering plants within the solar farm and the adjacent nature reserve and a source of water in our natural pond. A local beekeeper will manage the hives on our behalf and we are looking forward to welcoming our new bee colonies to their new home very soon. We are also looking forward to sampling the first of our Chelworth Solar Honey later in the year, maybe at our AGM!
Look out for more bee news soon, including some more developments at Chelworth to help lots more species of pollinators.
For more information about the project follow this link: https://www.naturesave.co.uk/the-naturesave-solar-bee-project-2/
Land Management Report
Our annual ecology report for the Chelworth site from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) for 2018 confirmed that the WWT estates team had a busy 2018 with at least monthly working visits to the site. The works included installation of a living and dead hedge adjacent to the war memorial end of the site and cutting back of nettles, thistles and encroaching vegetation from under the solar panels – unfortunately our sheep don’t like the taste of the thistles that tend to grow vigorously in the shade of the panels!
Ecology report also provided some good news on the number of brown hairstreak butterfly eggs which were up on last year with good early signs of the effect of the recently introduced rotation cutting regime for the hedgerows. Single great crested newts were seen on two occasions. A number of bird species have been recorded on the site most notable being Little Owl that has been recorded 5 times. On the 23rd February 2019 two brimstone butterflies were seen.
At our last Board meeting the Board considered the land management budget for 2019/20 and in addition to the Solar Bee project we are looking into a small investment in developing additional habitat to encourage other pollinators – this could include bug hotels and habitat for ground nesting native bees.