Farmers and land managers team up with BEEHAVE
By Kathy Troke-Thomas
The BEEHAVE team have been busy extending the real-world impact of our bee behaviour, growth and survival models with the help of land managers and farmers in Cornwall, UK. As part of our collaborative project with Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, entitled “Farms for AONBees”, we recently hosted a workshop at their annual conference held at Goonhilly Earth Station.
The conference was full of inspiring talks, walks and workshops that were all based around the theme of ‘Working in partnership for nature’. There was a huge buzz of energy as representatives from conservation and nature organisations from across Cornwall came together to discuss and share experiences, knowledge and ideas.
Our “Farms for AONBees” workshop provided an opportunity to spread the word about what the project has achieved so far and the future plans. It also gave us the chance to utilise the wealth of experiences available on this day, this was especially useful as many of the attendees were individuals involved with land management and farming. At present we are working on the development of BEE-STEWARD, a computer based decision support tool that will enable the user to visualise the effect of land management options on bee colony survival and growth. Once complete this will be a freely available tool that could aid farmers when considering land management options that effect pollinators.
We were able to take away a great deal of useful suggestions and ideas we can apply for continued improvement of the model. Here are just a few of those suggestions:
“Create a model that can be altered to be bespoke for the farmers key priorities and interests.”
“Incorporate results that relate to up-to-date stewardship schemes and other government incentives.”
“Offer links to other farmers who have used BEE-STEWARD and share success stories.”
“Results that highlight ‘hotspots’ – areas of the farm that are of particular importance to bees.”
Ensuring that the target audience is consulted as we develop the model is essential to producing an efficient, relevant and user friendly tool and next month sees the start of a new series of focus groups where we continue to refine BEE-STEWARD with the help and guidance from farmers. During these focus groups we plan to discuss the future of farm management that benefits bees and business and test BEE-STEWARD out on real farm maps and management plans. For more information on BEE-STEWARD and the focus groups please.
Our first Focus group is on Tuesday 5th September 2017 at the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9FE. For more information please contact Farms for AONBees researcher Grace Twiston-Davies on firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathy Troke-Thomas is a Laboratory and Teaching Assistant at the University of Exeter. Kathy has been working on stakeholder engagement and communications for the “Farms for AONBees” project, a collaboration between the and Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. She has a BSc in Conservation Biology and Ecology from the University of Exeter and is passionate about wildlife-friendly land management and conservation communication and outreach.