On Friday 11 August, over 40 people were welcomed by Joy Hallsworth of FoHS and Neil Williams of FoGS, as well as Megan Carroll from the High Peak and Hope Valley Community Rail Partnership (CRP).
Part of the Buzzing Stations project coordinated by the High Peak and Hope Valley CRP, the safari’s main aim is to raise awareness of the environmental value of station gardens and planters for bumblebees. With 97% of wild meadows lost in recent years, small, connected areas offer bumblebees the chance to continue pollinating flowers, which is vital for food production.
At the start of the safari, Neil used the ‘Bumblebees of the Peak District’ poster affixed to the perimeter fence (produced by the High Peak and Hope Valley CRP and found on many Peak District stations), to show some of the species found locally, including the very rare Bilberry Bumblebee. With the help of a woollen knitted model and a tomato and an apple, Neil pointed out the Bilberry Bumblebee’s distinctive orange tail and yellow stripes and explained the importance of pollination to our flowers and crops.
Joy led a tour of the platform planters and garden at Hadfield Station, emphasising the plants that are there specifically to attract bumblebees. The planter receiving the most attention was a special hexagonal one created two years ago by two local schoolchildren, Riordan and Finnan, whose enthusiasm for conservation last year led to the planter being created. The two boys now regularly work alongside FoHS to maintain the planters.
Before the safari continued to nearby Bankswood Park – where an extensive area is managed by High Peak Borough Council for the benefit of wildlife with no cutting of the grass – the group had their first sightings of bumblebees on the buddleia in the station approach garden. Whilst learning more about other wild plants that attract bumblebees such as thistles, rose bay willow herb, blackberry flowers and clover, 11-year-old Evora read out some interesting facts about bumblebees.
The group then made their way back to the station, where they could catch their connecting trains home – and, of course, look for bumblebees enroute.
FoHS and FoGS’ bumblebee safari was inspired by the work and enthusiasm of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, who hold regular bumblebee safaris and have published Walking with Bumblebees in and around Derbyshire, a guide highlighting nine local walks with lots of well-explained information, including how to spot the area’s rare, iconic Bilberry Bumblebee.
Other Buzzing Stations bumblebee safaris and walks around the High Peak area are also available, including self-guided ones at Buxton and Chapel-en-le-Frith.