Pig farmers feed one million bees in pioneering project

Pig farming brothers Mark and Paul Hayward have succeeded in feeding one million bees thanks to an innovative and pioneering project that saw them turn 33 acres of their farm land to wildflowers.

The project, which they launched four years ago around the pig site at Dingley Dell Pork, involved planting nectar-rich blooms with the aim of embracing a more eco-friendly and sustainable way of farming.

Under the guidance of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a scientific study was carried out monitoring insect activity on the plot – which found they were feeding one million bees at any one time. The total number of bumblebees estimated on the land during the count was 1,186,300.

The farm has developed a rotational system for its pork production which allows it to grow both grass and wildflower mixes – vital flowering habitat for bumblebees and other pollinators. The farm uses a seed mix of phacelia, sainfoin, birds-foot trefoil, alsike clover, musk mallow, campium and vetch.

Paul Hayward said: “Modern life has pushed nature out and the world knows we have a problem. We are taking a very minor role in helping society restore a more favourable balance and this starts with plant diversity to encourage in insects, bees, small mammals, and birds.

“At the end of the day, we see ourselves as caretakers of this land. Between us we have six children and we owe it to them to farm sustainability and set an example for the generations to come.”

Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Trust said: “The ‘bees per square metre’ figure can take a bit of finessing but even allowing for some extrapolating, the studies show that Dingley Dell is feeding at least one million bees at any one time.

“Nobody has done anything of this scale before and the point that should be made here is how committed Mark and Paul are to ensuring that their farm is pollinator friendly.

“Their commitment and passion for protecting bumblebees has to be applauded. And what they have done here is truly exceptional.”

Here is a video showing drone footage of the project.

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