Pollinators in need – how to save the small things which run the planet
A talk by Laurie Jackson, far, pollinator and wildlife adviser, in Hassocks, March, 2017 on B-Lines
Day in day out our native pollinating insects go about their business helping provide us with food. Amazingly there are over 1500 species of pollinators in England, including over 250 hoverflies, 250 solitary bees, 24 species of bumblebee and many flies, moths, beetles and butterflies. These pollinators are a vital part of nature, pollinating a large proportion of our wild plants and trees, while also being vital to our food production. Without these pollinators visiting flowers there would be no strawberries, apples, peas, beans, pears and plums, and looking further afield no chocolate, olives, cotton or peanuts. Many pollinators have declined as a result of significant losses of wildflowers and inappropriate pesticide use, and they all need our help. Our pollinators are at such risk that the government has produced a National Pollinator Strategy.
The wildlife charity Buglife is at the forefront of pollinator conservation in the UK. It is working across towns, cities and our countryside to enthuse people to take action. One of Buglife’s key pollinator programmes is B-Lines – see map above – which is aiming to develop a network of wildflower-rich habitats across the UK.
B-Lines are a network of routes running through our countryside and towns linking together the best of our existing wildlife sites. Over time, and with help around the country, we will join these sites up by ‘filling’ the B Lines with new wildflower-rich areas. These new flower-rich areas will provide food for pollinators as well as helping them move around the country in response to climate change.
Everyone who owns or manages land, lives or works within one of the B-Lines can make a difference. Add up a lot of even the smallest actions and they will benefit pollinators.
The Church of England has considerable land holdings within its churchyards, burial grounds and other estates. Large areas of this land is already being managed to help conserve wildlife, however there is always more than can be done. Work for pollinators can take many forms, from maintaining areas of wildflower meadow to simple operations like cutting the grass a little less often can encourage wildflowers to flower – providing food for bees and other insect pollinators. Planting spring flowering native trees and shrubs can provide early spring pollen and nectar, and flowering ivy offers food late into the autumn.
In addition we can achieve much much more by passing on the message and enthusing others to participate on their own land, in their gardens on other community space.
The Church of England is working with Buglife by looking to see how its land assets within the B-Lines can offer more for pollinators. In addition it wishes to mobilise people in parishes along the B-Lines to take action themselves –whether this is a farmer who can restore wildflowers to part of their farm, a schools who can plant pollinator friendly trees and shrubs, or a gardeners who can plant pollinator friendly flowers.
HKD’s Join the Buzz 2013 and Big Buzz 2014 and 2015 events organised with the South Downs Garden Centre in Hassocks proved a big success with lots of people showing an interest in finding out more about the plight of bees and their decline in numbers and what we can do to help them. Pictured children and parents making seed bombs for bee-friendly plants at the event.
British bee numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. Suitable food and nesting sites are getting scarcer.
Bees are vital to so much of British life; they pollinate our food, help keep our farms in business and help our gardens, parks and countryside to thrive.
Click on the links below to find out more about what you can do to encourage bees into your garden.
The honeybee is under threat
And little has been done just yet.
They’re affected by a deadly mite,
The cure for which is not in sight.
They’re losing habitat and forage,
With less wild flowers and bright blue borage.
This puts at risk, the flow of honey.
And industry is losing money.
Then pollination of our crops
Is badly hit and sadly drops.
A beehive needs a good supply
Of food, or it will run quite dry.
With this real threat to their survival,
Research is on for their revival.
They hope to raise hygienic bees,
That keep the hives free of disease.
They’ll try to decode ‘waggle dances’,
Which, apparently enhances,
Where bees forage for their nectar –
Buzzing off to the right sector!
They’re looking for a lot more hives,
To study bees and save their lives.
‘A beacon of hope’, for all to see;
Will you help to save our honeybee?