Bath has gone 'nutty' for bees with locals sowing the seeds to transform a much-loved nut orchard into a “pollinator paradise” fit for the region’s busy bugs.

Mayor Dan Norris joined Transition Bath trustees, who are leading the project, and volunteers in rolling up their sleeves and armed with spades and trowels at the 2.5-acre site near Smallcombe Cemetery on Wednesday, 8th November.

The project to turn The Nuttery - which is on National Trust land at Smallcombe Vale, on the route of the popular Bath Skyline walk - into a pollinator haven helping Bath’s pollinator pals has been made possible thanks to a £1,250-plus cash injection from Mr Norris’s Mayoral Combined Authority.

Smallcombe Nuttery is being transformed into a pollinator haven for bees.
(Google Maps)

The Nuttery is a hidden gem of a wood and grassland area planted in 2011 with a hedgerow and some 40 nut trees - including cobnuts, sweet chestnuts, quince, and more. But post pandemic, Dr Lyn Barham and her team say they have been unable to do much maintenance on site, but now have cash to not just maintain the site but make it even more beautiful and fit for Bath’s bee buddies.

The grant from Mayor Norris is being used to add nectar and pollen-rich bee friendly flowering plants and shrubs on site, like yellow rattle - a bee favourite - and night-scented plants which are vital for moths and other nighttime pollinators. Plus, there are plans to do things like introduce a ‘hedgehog highway’, and even plant an edible garden for locals and pollinators alike to enjoy.

The Mayor, who is investing in projects like these as part of his ambition to make the West of England the bee and pollinator capital of the whole country, said: “It is exciting to see this vital project come together. The Nuttery is a gorgeous hidden gem of a site, and it’s really great that cash from my Mayoral Combined Authority means we can transform it for Bath’s bees. I’m sure it wal-nut disappoint!”

The site is being managed by Transition Bath who, alongside planting pollinator-friendly plants, will help train volunteers in 'scything' via free workshops and run free foraging walks so that local people can make good use of crops from the trees, grassland and hedgerows.

Mr Norris in inviting people across the Bath area to help maintain The Nuttery for bees and residents over the coming months. He added: “My message to residents is - Bath’s pollinator pals need your assistance! I’m proud that my Mayoral Combined Authority is investing in projects supporting our region’s pollinators. But we cannot do this alone - we need more trees, plants, wildflower meadows and more planted across our great region. Together let’s make amazing Bath an even better place for locals and pollinators alike to call home."

Dr Lyn Barham, who is a Trustee of Transition Bath, added: "We were successful in a grant application to Mayor Norris’s West of England Combined Authority and now have a helpful pot of money to develop this lovely site. Since biodiversity is the prime objective, we called on the kind services of Bath Naturalists to do a site survey for us.

“We had two prime concerns: finding out if there are any plants or creatures of especial interest that we must safeguard and seeking advice on particularly beneficial planting to encourage an even greater diversity of bees, bugs and general wildlife.

"We are now involving the Avon Wildlife Trust community ecologist in helping us develop plans for managing the sward so that tough grasses do not out-compete the pollinator-friendly planting that we undertake."

Anyone in Bath is welcome to get involved in maintaining The Nuttery. For more information contact Katie Janota and Dr Lyn Barham at [email protected].