Over the past two years, we've been working with Blenheim Palace to restore vital nectar sources for our pollinators across the estate. We have created a variety of new Bee Habitats across over 2,000 acres of arable farmland and are thrilled to see wildlife not just surviving, but thriving!
Read on to find out some of the recent findings from across the Estate.
Honey Bees and Log Hives
We have created 27 new log hives, using wood from Blenheim Forests. This is timber which was harvested from the Blenheim Estate at the end of its growing cycle and carved by our team of skilled foresters.The 2,000 acre area previously only had one recorded colony.
During winter 2023, 11 of the Log Hives have bee occupants – naturally arriving and thriving on insulated habitats provided - and by Spring 2024, this is expected to be at least 21. By the end of summer we expect almost all of them to be occupied.
The clever design of these log hives means the bees are producing double the amount of honey usually expected (>60kgs). This is because the hives are well insulated so the bees are using less energy to produce their delicious honey.
We have taken 50 acres of former intensively farmed arable land and planted native wildflowers sown as part of the scheme.
The seed mix is all native UK flowers, designed specifically for this project. There are 36 species including commonly known wild garlic, clovers and buttercups through to the more obscure ‘Bevil’s bit Scabious’ and ‘Goats Beard’. All of them provide pollination from April through to October and are suitable for the local soil type.
Together we have planted 1.5km of new native hedgerow, restoring previously lost hedgerows.
Wildlife and Ecology
A 2022 survey along the Rousham Gap pollinator areas revealed 23 species of butterflies (57 exist nationally) including two previously unrecorded migratory species.
We also saw a notable increase in Kestrel sightings from five to 57, established family groups of owls and rare bird sightings making a remarkable revival!
You can learn even more about the project by walking the network of grass routes across the Blenheim Palace Estate.