Bees and wildlife are much in the public eye these days, with frequent media reports of declines. In the UK, for example, approximately 70% of the land area is used for agriculture. Clearly, helping wildlife at a national level requires agricultural land to play a major role and there are various encouragements for this, with funding opportunities like the Countryside Stewardship scheme (Supplement 1) (244 separate grants including for ‘badger gates’, ‘beetle banks’, and ‘autumn sown bumble bee mix’) and advice and support from organisations such as LEAF (Supplement 2) (Linking Environment and Farming).
What can the general public do? A plethora of products such as nest boxes, feeding stations and wildlife friendly seeds are available to purchase on-line and in garden centres. Internet shopping websites such as Amazon UK list over 10,000 products for bees in their Garden and Outdoors section.
Here we take a close look at a number of these products which are specifically designed to help bees and other insects: bee hotels, bee bricks, bee and butterfly seed balls, and ladybird and butterfly houses. Our investigation uses a number of approaches, including expert responses and scientific research results….
A famous University of Cambridge view is set for a change as a pristine lawn maintained for centuries is transformed into a wildflower meadow.
King’s College Chapel and its sloping lawn down to the River Cam have become one of the city’s best-known images. It is popular with tourists, featuring in thousands of Instagram posts, and is widely used to promote the city.
Head gardener Steve Coghill said it was hoped the meadow would bloom in May and create a “biodiversity-rich ecosystem”….
Come springtime the Brussels region’s environment agency Bruxelles Environnement will take up the beehives it manages at nature sites in Brussels, and remove them permanently.
The move forms part of a plan by the region to tackle the recent huge growth in members of the public keeping bees – a trend inspired by concerns about pollution, climate and biodiversity. Bees have become something of a mascot for this movement, in part because they are an excellent barometer of environmental conditions, and in part because of their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity.
But it’s possible to have too much biodiversity, and the honey bee – a variety essentially created by Man for Man – now represents a threat to its wild cousin….
“The Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership (PMRP) aims to establish how insect pollinator populations are changing across Great Britain.
We are working with existing recording schemes that focus on pollinating insects, and have established new large-scale surveys under the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme banner (PoMS)
PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Together with long-term occurrence records collated by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society and Hoverfly Recording Scheme, these data will form an invaluable resource from which to measure trends in pollinator populations and target our conservation efforts.
With reports of dramatic losses of insects occurring across the globe, and concern about what this means for wider biodiversity and ecosystem health, there has never been a more important time to document evidence of change in populations of pollinating insects.
FIT Counts: if you can spare ten minutes to sit and watch insects and flowers you can carry out a FIT Count (Flower-Insect Timed Count)! This simple survey collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower, ideally chosen from our list of 14 target flowers. FIT Counts can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks, in warm, dry weather any time from April to September. If you can carry out several counts at one location during that time you will be adding extra value to your survey records. All the information you need is provided on their web site:”
“As spring approaches, Monmouthshire’s grounds maintenance service will work to support the environment and provide a boost for wildlife by modifying mowing practices. Teams will mark open spaces with blue or white topped stakes to highlight areas likely to be suitable habitats which have been identified by council staff, residents or through the council’s partnerships with local groups. These include Bee Friendly Monmouthshire, Bees for Development and Gwent Wildlife Trust as part of the Nature Isn’t Neat project funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Plan for Wales …”
Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying.
The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops. See the Guardian newspaper report: –
“Bee Friendly” is a new initiative aimed at communities and community organisations, schools, public bodies, town and community councils, businesses, universities and colleges, places of worship…….. and many other organisations, all around Wales.
We think it is the first co-ordinated national scheme of its kind and has at its heart – making Wales a Pollinator- Friendly country.
Although the scheme is called Bee Friendly, we want people to take action to help all our pollinators, and not just bees.
Bee Friendly Monmouthshire awarded two houses in St. Arvans near Chepstow on Tuesday 9th Jan 2018 with Certificates of Recognition for Bee Friendly Gardens. BfM participated in the Gwent Best Kept Village 2017, and during the judging for Most Polli-Friendly Village, found some very wonderful pollinator friendly gardens amongst them.
We wanted to highlight them, and congratulate them. One of the winners commented, “I’ve never received an award for doing nothing before!” and that is what we at BfM want to encourage. We want to encourage more pollinator-friendly people to leave those pesky dandelions, to allow that mischievous ivy to flower, and to leave that haircut for the grass a little longer. 2018 should be the year of the pollinator.
Many congratulations to the winners, and we hope to see more polli-friendly gardens this year.
Dorset has become the latest council to take steps to help Britain’s bees to thrive. At its Cabinet meeting in June Dorset County Council agreed to adopt a pollinator action plan.
Crucially its plan includes banning bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides wherever it can.
Dorset’s plan proposes other bee-friendly actions. The cutting of hedges and grass verges will be changed to offer more food and shelter for bees. And native wildflowers, trees and shrubs will become more widespread in planting schemes.