Boothorpe Orchard and Pollinator Project
In 2018 Black to Green built upon the habitat creation work aimed at pollinators that had already been developed in the Heart of the Forest . This project took place at Boothorpe, a site owned by the National Forest Company within Ashby Woulds. For the project B2G partnered up with David McDowell, The Bee Farmer to create an apiary at the north end of the site.
The apiary was set with the help of Blackfordby Cubs & Scouts, who both built the beehives and painted them. The cubs and scouts chose the colours by thinking about tones in the landscape, both above and below ground. One of the hives represents Bees (of course) and Fireclay, a type of clay found in the Heart of the Forest, which is able to withstand intense heat and was used locally to make bricks and pipes. The other hive was painted the colours of Sky and Dark Clunch, the name given to a seam of sedimentary rock found beneath the ground at Boothorpe, amongst the coal and clay seams.
The beehives were installed at the beginning of May and both colonies rapidly expanded, requiring more supers and frames to fill with wax and honey. Wildflowers were planted around the site to provide pollen and nectar for both the honeybees and other pollinators, including foxgloves, honeysuckle and autumn hawkbit, with the latter providing a good source of food for the bees later in the season when they often struggle to find the forage they need.
In addition to the apiary, the BOPP project has also involved planting a traditional orchard, with 50 fruit trees including Leicestershire apple varieties such as ‘Leicester Burton’ and ‘Barnack Orange’, as well as other heritage apple varieties plus cider apples, pears, crabapple, quince and plums. Once the fruit trees start to flower next spring this will also provide another supply of pollen and nectar for the honeybees and other insects.