Buzzing!

Friends of the Earth’s Great Bri­tish Bee Count runs un­til June 30; we’ve picked six of the best places in Nor­folk to get your count off to a buzzing start

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

Some of the best places for bee-spot­ting

1 EARLHAM CEME­TERY, NOR­WICH

An im­pres­sive 37 dif­fer­ent species of bee have been recorded at this tran­quil spot in the city, in­clud­ing the orange-tailed min­ing bee, the wool carder bee and the patch­work leaf­cut­ter bee. Wool carder bees can of­ten be seen on the flow­ers of Stachys (lamb’s ear) in June – they col­lect the hairs from these plants for their nests. Look for white­tailed, buff-tailed and red-tailed bum­ble­bees in amongst the wild­flow­ers too.

You can eas­ily spend a re­lax­ing hour en­joy­ing the sights and sounds of the wildlife here. Friends of Earlham Ceme­tery have pro­duced a self-guided walk for vis­i­tors which high­lights what to look out for. Dur­ing the sum­mer the ceme­tery is open 7.30am – 8pm on week­days, and from 8am at the week­end. Earlham Ceme­tery, Earlham Road, Nor­wich friend­sofearl­ham­ceme­tery.co.uk

2 GREEN BRI­TAIN CEN­TRE, SWAFFHAM

The or­ganic gar­den at the Green Bri­tain Cen­tre is all about en­cour­ag­ing pol­li­na­tors – look out for com­mon carder bees, gar­den bum­ble­bees and red ma­son bees in the fruit and veg­etable plots and in the or­chard. Fifty dif­fer­ent fruit tree va­ri­eties are grown here, many of which are dis­tinct to Nor­folk. If you’ve got ques­tions about or­ganic com­post­ing and grow­ing, the gar­den­ers are on hand to help. Try the fruit, veg­eta­bles, salad and herbs in the Café, and buy them in the shop. The cen­tre also has a wind tur­bine you can climb to the top of, for panoramic views of the Nor­folk land­scape.

The Green Bri­tain Cen­tre is open Mon­day to Fri­day 9am to 4pm, 10am to 4pm on Satur­days. Wind­mill tours: 11am, 1pm, 3pm. Green Bri­tain Cen­tre, Tur­bine Way, Swaffham, Nor­folk PE37 7HT, 01760 726100 greenbri­tain­cen­tre.co.uk

3 EAST WRETHAM HEATH, THE BRECKS

A his­tory of sheep graz­ing and rab­bit war­ren­ing has cre­ated a dis­tinc­tive land­scape at Nor­folk Wildlife Trust’s old­est Breck­land na­ture re­serve, just north of Thet­ford. On a hot sum­mer’s day the open ar­eas are buzzing with soli­tary bees. You may come across bees on plants that are found only in the Brecks, such as the low-grow­ing, tiny pink blooms of Breck­land thyme. If you visit in late June the first flow­er­ings of pur­ple-blue hare­bells should be a ma­jor at­trac­tion for species like the hare­bell car­pen­ter bee. This bee is so tiny (6mm) that when the weather is bad the males curl up inside the flow­ers for sev­eral days at a time, to wait it out.

The heath is open ev­ery day, dawn to dusk. East Wretham Heath, three miles north-east of Thet­ford (use IP24 1RU) 01603 625540 nor­folk­wildlifetr­ust.org.uk

4 SHER­ING­HAM PARK

Fa­mous for its ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of rhodo­den­drons and aza­leas, Sher­ing­ham Park’s 1,000 acres are also home to some won­der­ful wild places to spot bees, as well as stun­ning views of the Nor­folk coast­line. Look out for com­mon carder bees and buff-tailed bum­ble­bees on the white-pink flow­ers of thrift on the cliffs. Fox­gloves in the wood­land at­tract gar­den bum­ble­bees, and the white and yel­low blooms of ox­eye daisies and yel­low rat­tle in the wild­flower meadow will be buzzing too.

Sher­ing­ham Park is just two miles on the train from Sher­ing­ham and makes a nice stop off on a walk along the Nor­folk Coast Path. The park­land is open from dawn to dusk. Vis­i­tor cen­tre and Court­yard Café: 10am to 5pm week­days and Sun­days, 9:30am to 6:30pm on Satur­days. Sher­ing­ham Park, Up­per éSher­ing­ham, Nor­folk NR26 8TL 01263 820550 na­tion­al­trust.org.uk

5 HOLME DUNES, NORTH NOR­FOLK COAST

The North Nor­folk coast is well-known for its spec­tac­u­lar bird­watch­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. This wild windswept land­scape is not just a top spot for birds though. Where The Wash meets the North Sea, the Holme Dunes Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve is home to wild­flow­ers, but­ter­flies, drag­on­flies and even rare nat­ter­jack toads. The dune grass­land also at­tracts bees, in­clud­ing those that like to build their bur­rows in sandy spots.

The Nor­folk coast­line is a strong­hold for the sea-aster min­ing bee – as its name sug­gests, it vis­its the flow­ers of sea aster, which grow on salt­marshes. This bee usu­ally emerges later in sum­mer, so keep your eyes peeled for other bees on the coast that should be easy to see in June, like the red-tailed bum­ble­bee. Take in the brac­ing air and stun­ning views at the same time. The re­serve, vis­i­tor cen­tre and café are open daily, 10am to 5pm. Café closes 4:30pm. Holme Dunes, Holme next the Sea, North Nor­folk PE36 6LQ, 01485 525240 nor­folk­wildlifetr­ust.org.uk

6 OXBURGH HALL, NEAR SWAFFHAM

Seven miles south-west of Swaffham, this im­pres­sive 15th cen­tury moated manor house has 70 acres of gar­dens which are a mag­net for bees. The white, pur­ple and yel­low of yarrow, clover and bird’s foot-tre­foil bloom in the less for­mal ar­eas - these na­tive wild­flow­ers are a ma­jor at­trac­tion for all sorts of bees. Laven­der, sages and a whole host of other herbs and flow­ers in the borders of this Na­tional Trust prop­erty will be buzzing in mid­sum­mer too. Look out for com­mon carder bees, early bum­ble­bees and tree bum­ble­bees busy col­lect­ing nec­tar and pollen. The Tree bum­ble­bee sports a dis­tinc­tive gin­ger, black and white coat. Oxburgh’s gar­dens, shop and tea room are open from 10:30am to 5pm all week; the hall from 11am to 5pm ev­ery day. N Oxburgh Hall, Oxbor­ough, near Swaffham, Nor­folk, PE33 9PS na­tion­al­trust.org.uk

Com­mon carder bee

OP­PO­SITE TOP: Buff-tailed bum­ble­bee (Bom­bus ter­restris) ABOVE: Hairy-footed flower bee

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