Suffolk pig farm 'feeds a million bumblebees'

Grace Hayward at Dingley Dell Image copyright Mark Hayward
Image caption Grace Hayward led the bumblebee count on the family-owned farm

A pig farm is feeding one million bumblebees a day after it planted 33 hectares (81 acres) of nectar-rich wildflowers, a study has revealed.

Grace Hayward, 18, led the bee count on her family's farm, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, as part of the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.

The Haywards began planting the wildflower mix four years ago.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust's chief executive Gill Perkins said their efforts were "truly exceptional".

She said nobody had done anything on this scale before.

The trust said habitat loss contributed to a 70% decline in some species.

Image copyright Mark Hayward
Image caption Between 12 and 19 bumblebees were counted in a square metre when the phacelia was in full bloom

To survey the bees, 50cm-square (20in) patches were watched for a minute at a time at different locations on the farm between 10:00 and 12:30 BST on the same day.

Ms Hayward and her team counted the number of pollinators that arrived during that time.

Her uncle Paul and father Mark Hayward raise pigs for the restaurant trade at Dingley Dell Pork.

Image copyright Mark Hayward
Image caption Paul Hayward (right) with brother Mark, said plant diversity encouraged insects, bees, small mammals, and birds

Mark Hayward said: "We are acutely aware that bees are under threat from modern farming methods and that East Anglia is one of the worst offenders for bee foraging diversity."

They planted a seed mix of phacelia, sainfoin, bird's-foot trefoil, alsike clover, musk mallow, campion and vetch.

They also developed a rotational system for their pork production to allow both grass for the pigs and wildflowers.

Ms Perkins said: "Even allowing for some extrapolating, the studies show that Dingley Dell is feeding at least one million bees at any one time."

Ms Hayward, who runs the farm's charcuterie business, said she was "immensely proud" of what they have achieved.

"What's even better is nobody was stung except my boyfriend - which my dad found hilarious."

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