World Honey Bee Day 7

Native Species and Bee Conservation

We are surrounded by amazingly breath-taking exotic animals, most of whom are ambassadors for their species.  In a bid to improve people’s appreciation of insects we are paying homage to our native species, transforming the grassland next to the Illescas Aviary, which currently sees the beginnings of an area dedicated to British wildlife.

Future plans for this area include the installation of bat boxes, butterfly boxes and native wild flower planting.

National nest box week runs in February of each year, an inclusive activity for visitors to help build nestboxes or join in building their own nestboxes is being explored.

Bee Conservation

In the past 5 years the bee population has decreased by a third. In the UK alone, 35 bee species are currently under threat of extinction and all bee species are facing serious threats to their survival.  Building works for houses/offices have destroyed bees’ natural habits – 97% of our vital grasslands and hedgerows have been lost in the past 60 years. Increased use of pesticides, results in paralysis and eventual death. Insects that would have kept parasite numbers under control are killed off by pesticides, allowing harmful parasites to flourish and bees under the influence of pesticides are less resistant to the harmful varroa mite – a parasite which can wipe out bee colonies.

Bees perform in the region of 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A lone bee can pollinate a whopping 5,000 plants each day. It is estimated that 30% of the world crops (and 90% of the wild plants!) need a pollinating insect like a bee to thrive.  The problem faced by bees and why we need them is highlighted on our Let’s Bee Friends sign in the native species grassland area.

One third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees, and if fresh fruit and veg doesn’t appeal to you think of the bi-products….avocado flowers are pollinated by honey bees, when the bees are gone that’s no guacamole with your nachos or fajitas. Wind naturally pollinates Tomato flowers but is helped along tremendously by the bumblebee, bumblebee pollinated yields are larger both in size and quantity. If tomato supplies dry up with the loss of the bumblebee, where’s the sauce coming from for your pizza base or bolognese sauce?  Scientists estimate that it would cost over £1.8 billion every single year to manually pollinate UK crops by hand. And that’s just the UK! Think of the cost implications on your favourite foods if artificial pollination has to take place!  To raise awareness f how a lack of bees would affect our food choices “WITHOUT BEES” Alert signs were displayed in shop and Catering outlets.

Consider the knock on effects on animals, especially herbivores. many animals, including Safari Zoo Giraffes, consume alfalfa (AKA Lucerne), alfalfa is pollinated by bees. Cotton plants depend on bees, their loss impacts the fashion industry and mass production of natural fabrics. Canola is used to produce biofuel, the plants depend on bee pollination, the loss of bees reduces access to biofuel, increasing dependency on fossil fuels and adding further pressure on an environment which is already stretched to breaking point. To raise awareness of how a lack of bees would affect our our wildlife, talks have been adapted to include the impact on giraffes by the loss of food source alfalfa.

  1. Habitats – replace the habitats humans have stolen in your own gardens, patios and yards. Bee boxes and bug hotels can be purchased but they can also be made from unwanted household items and recycled materials. Bug Hotels installed in the native species grassland area. Instructions on how to create your own bee hotel bug hotel, bee stump or log pile is included in the let’s bee friends signage.
  2. Food sources – offer bees an alternative to the nasty pesticide laden crops by planting flowers from the RHS perfect pollinators list to attract our buzzy friends. And don’t weed your gardens, bees love a good dandelion and in early spring, weeds are often the only source of food for bees. RHS recognised list of bee friendly plants is displayed in the native species grassland area.

Don’t step on a Bee Day falls on the 10th July each year, paying respect to bees and their fellow pollinator.  We have created a bee trail leading to our native species area consisting of yellow bees on the floor accompanied by “don’t step on a bee” signage and hopscotch.

We have had an initial meeting with the Association of British Ports at Barrow Docks.  Barrow Docks was historically an open natural area which included wild flowers, insects and small furries.  With the development of the docks, marina and building for BAE Systems, the area is now leaning to more of a concrete jungle.  Our initial meeting was to propose sponsorship of bug hotels, signage and restoration of wild areas in an attempt to redevelop some of the lost beauty of the area which was very positive and we await further meetings to push on and launch a collaboration.

Further opportunity for collaboration, this time with the Bee Centre at Preston has presented itself following their visit to complete a Sloth experience!  This will hopefully lead to opportunity for onsite demonstrations, natural organic products and potentially even a Bee Hive!

Future Toddling Tuesdays and Homeschools will revolve around Native Species and Bees