Bees and Butterflies in Willersey
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Help Willersey become Bee and Butterfly friendly Bee'n'Bee!
Our bees are essential to pollinating our major food crops and contribute an estimated £510 million to the UK economy and over 14 billion Euros to the EU economy. Bees pollinate 75% of our food. It would cost the UK £1.8 billion annually to pollinate crops without them as currently happens in parts of China. They support our wild flowers and wild places. They are too important to lose.
With 97% of our wildflower meadows lost since the 1930s, growing use of weedkillers that harm bees and kill the wild plants they depend upon, and agriculture and gardeners using the chemical pesticides that kill them, bees are under attack.
There are 267 species of bees in the UK. They include 24 species of bumble bees, around 240 species of solitary bee and just a single managed honeybee species. Bumblebees look quite different from honeybees and solitary bees. Although in the UK there are 24 species of bumblebee, only eight are commonly found in most places. Bumblebees are found in a variety of habitats and most people should be able to attract them to their gardens if they have the right kinds of flowering plants. Honey bees are not nearly as good pollinators as bumble bees or solitary bees. Bumble bees and solitary bees can go out and pollinate in the wet which honey bees cannot do. Only bumble bees can pollinate tomatoes as they buzz pollinate which means that the pollen is only released by the buzzing. Apple trees really need solitary bees such as the red mason bee for good pollination.
A 2013 report found that here in the UK, more than half of the bee, butterfly and moth species studied have declined in the past 50 years. In recent decades, UK managed honeybee hive numbers have decreased by 54%, three bumblebee species are thought to have become extinct, 52% of solitary bees have declined. Wild honeybees are thought to be nearly extinct throughout the British Isles.
In Willersey, as well as the Solar Farm and other sites, Pool Orchard now has some hives in it provided by a local beekeeper.
Pool Orchard also now has some fruit trees planted in it which are good for bees.
Spring has sprung - and with it comes the return of our beloved bees. Soon, they will be busy hunting out flowers - and they could use our help. Will you give our garden friends a helping hand and plant these bee-friendly flowers? Bees are incredibly important for pollinating our fruit and veg, but wild meadows are in decline and our bees' diets are being affected. Plant many bee-friendly flowers in your garden to provide a bumper harvest for bees all over the country. Click if you would like a free pack of seeds: I'd like some seeds please. Since 2013, an EU ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides has been a valuable lifeline for Britain's bees.
You can help bees survive by:
Here is another suggestion list of flowers to plant for bees.
Plant by plant here is a slightly technical list of plants that bees really love.
This shows an example of an insect and bee hotel. This one is quite large about 1.50-1.60m high but they can be any size or shape:-
This hotel is at the local National Trust Hidcote Garden. The pallets give you an idea of its size. Note the slight degree of protection from wet weather.
Any pallets you use for making an insect and bee hotel should be heat treated rather than chemically treated. Look for the HT mark.
This document on garden bumblebees comes from the Worceshire Wildlife Trust. Solitary bees are amazingly effective pollinators.
Here is plenty of extra information and guidance. Friends of the Earth also have a bee page.
The Women's Institute also has a well organised campaign to halt bee decline.
Willersey has a long market garden history with its proximity to Vale of Evesham horticultural activity. Helping our bees would support local horticultural producers and also the tourist economy; We have many ancient hedgerows and verges with footpath access to these natural habitats. These need to continue and be preserved and act as a shelter and resource for bees. There is strong interest and pride in village gardens which could become more bee friendly. Willersey Horticultural Society is flourishing and has a well attended annual show. Willersey could be promoted as an eco-friendly place with support from the AONB, CPRE and other organisations which aim to preserve our countryside.
Willersey solar farm actively encourages bees and already has a number of hives near its panels. Take a tour of the solar farm. The first honey has been produced and the solar farm encourages frequent Willersey school visits.
This 24 page document contains a detailed analysis of the current bee situation and recommends courses of action.
As long as you do not treat bees roughly, you are unlikely to be stung. All bees are unlikely to sting you so long as they can go about their business of collecting nectar and pollen.
Here are a number of links about bee decline:
The government in April 2017 upheld the ban on the use of neonicotinoids.
BBC: Neonicotinoid pesticide link to long-term wild bee decline.
The Mirror: Bee numbers dropping dramatically.
Sky: EU banned pesticide linked to bee population decline in England.
Daily Mail: Controversial pesticides on oilseed rape crops are linked to a decline in Britain's bees.
Nature: Controversial insecticides linked to wild bee decline.
This is the key research published in the journal Nature in August 2016:
Impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term population changes in wild bees in England.
In America, Australia and across Europe:
The LA Times. The Washington Post. The Conversation.
Huffington Post: These photos and article show the startling effect of shrinking bee populations and the effort by humans to replace what the bees do naturally.
This partnership programme is a great opportunity for any community group or volunteer that would like to join in and either plant trees or nominate a local community group to do so.
The Vale Landscape Heritage Trust is strongly encouraging bees in it orchards.
Hopefully in the future toys such as the one below will not become a curiosity!
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