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Bees Have Needs Too!

Posted: Tuesday 23rd August 2016 by OutdoorLearning

Image Courtesy of Jeremy Early

Reigate Town Hall was a buzz with allotment holders, stewards, volunteers and council officers learning about the beauty of bees and how to care for our wild pollinators.

The variety seen amongst the 230 species of bees found in Surrey is amazing!

A mixed group of bee enthusiasts, gardeners and park staff gathered at the Town Hall to find out more about the Bees Needs Project. This partnership project involving Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT), Reigate & Banstead Borough Council (RBBC), YMCA and Reigate Bee Keepers Society is based on the Colesmead Allotment in Redhill. This innovative project is funded by DEFRA as part of its national strategy for conserving wild bumblebees.

The evening started with a presentation from SWT Community Learning Coordinator Paul Ritchie, who explained about the Trust’s strategy for Living Landscapes and why nature reserves alone cannot save Surrey’s wildlife. After describing the threats to our native wildlife, including the loss of 10,000 playing fields during the 80s and 90s, he went on to promote the potential of gardens and community green spaces for conserving nature in Surrey.

Next up to the rostrum was SWT Wildlife Gardening Officer Dawn Fielding who introduced the Bees Needs Project in Redhil. She set out our aim for it to be an exemplar project demonstrating how to attract pollinators into allotments and other community green spaces. During her presentation Dawn explained the importance of bees to natural ecosystems as well as their value to our local and national economy with regard to food production.

We were pleased that Jeremy Early, a journalist by profession and conservationist by inclination, shared his beautiful colour images of a variety of bumblebees and other wild pollinators. As author of My Side of the Fence, which describes the natural history of a Surrey garden, he is passionate about the intrinsic value of bees as wild pollinators.

Finally Clare Ritchie, RBBC Green Spaces (Allotments & Sports) Officer stepped up to explain about the potential to garden for wildlife across the Borough, which has 24 allotment sites and 1200 plots. Clare described a few key projects and ideas for ‘breaking new ground’ on allotments before calling on the stewards and allotment holders to spread the word about Bees’ Needs.

It was an excellent evening discovering more about these fascinating small creatures that are so important to the diversity of life on Earth!

Dawn Fielding

Wildlife Gardening Officer

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