Bumblebee Campaign wants the nation buzzing
The Bees for Everyone Campaign, funded through a £34,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), has launched a national ‘Bee Kind’ competition to find the UK’s most bee-friendly gardens.
A custom-built interactive website tool makes it easy for people to get a Bee kind score for their project then makes other suggestions for plants to include.
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: “Bumblebees are a crucial part of the UK’s ecosystem and our natural heritage so it’s alarming to see how numbers have been declining in recent years.
“The innovative ‘Bee kind’ competition and online tool will help to protect our bumblebees, encouraging people across the country to learn more about these fascinating insects and how to make gardens and window boxes bee-friendly habitats.”
The competition prizes will be awarded across a range of garden sizes, from window boxes upwards. The top ten entries with the highest score in each category will be asked to send in their photos so a panel of experts can pick the winner.
TV presenter Kate Humble who is backing the scheme said: “The Bee kind website tool is brilliant- it makes it really easy for people to find out how good their garden is for bees and suggests simple and affordable changers to cater for the bees’ needs.
“Anyone can become involved and it doesn’t matter where they live. We can all do our bit just by planting a few colourful flowers, and the Bee kind tool will show you how.”
Bumblebee numbers have declined steeply because agricultural changes have destroyed their natural habitats. The Bees for Everyone project aims to help the public reverse these declines by turning their gardens into bumblebee oases.
Speaking at the launch of the project, Richard Benyon MP, Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, said: “We know that bumblebees together with other pollinators contribute £500 million to our economy- but they are also valued in their own right and this project gives people the opportunity to help bumblebees thrive.
“Bees for Everyone is a great initiative to help support these vital pollinators in our towns, cities, and countryside.”
The campaign is also working with landowners, farmers and local authorities to ensure that the UK’s rarest bumblebees have the habitat they need in order to survive.
'Fruit and Vegetables could become more expensive'
By working with both the public and large-scale landowners, BBCT’s CEO Dr. Ben Darvill hopes to begin a reversal in the recent fortunes of these important insects. He said: “In the last 70 years, two bumblebee species have become extinct and many more have declined rapidly.
”It’s easy to take them for granted, but without their work as pollinators our crops would be less productive and our wildflowers would produce fewer seeds.
“Important five-a-day fruit and vegetables could become more expensive and our countryside would lose its colour.”
The UK currently has 24 species of bumblebees. Seven species are on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan in recognition of their urgent need for conservation action.
Children from Stoneydown Park Primary School in East London are already enthusiastic supporters of the project and attended the launch event.
They took part in a bee-friendly drawing competition and performed a specially-commissioned light-hearted poem chanting “What do we want? Lots more flowers! When do we want them? Now!”.