South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth in partnership with Leighton Linslade Town Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and the Greensand Trust as part of ‘Keep the Buzz in Leighton Buzzard’ are working with local residents, local town centre retailers, local businesses, and local schools to create bee-friendly habitats across the town and educate and engage both adults and children about bees and wildlife in their local area. We try to provide flowers and shrubs that are particularly attractive to bees and other pollinators, as well as long grass and areas which are crucial for hibernation of bees and butterflies.
Leighton Buzzard features as a case study (http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs/casestudies) in the Government’s National Pollinator Strategy launched in November 2014, which is supported by National Trust, the National Farmers’ Union, the wildlife trusts, Women’s Institute, and Friends of the Earth
The government’s implementation of the National Pollinator Strategy is based on landowners, councils and communities working in partnership to create significant amounts of bee friendly habitat in order to reverse the decline in the numbers of bumble bees, solitary bees and honey bees. It calls for five key actions to help bees:
1. Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees
2. Let it grow wild
3. Cut grass less often
4. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation sites
5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
In Linslade Memorial Gardens site we use mainly garden shrubs and flowers that are particularly attractive to bees and other pollinators, and which will provide nectar and pollen whenever bees may be flying rather than just in the spring and summer, when most wild flowers are in bloom. We do have more informal planting than might be expected in a more formal garden, with more ground cover to try to provide nesting and hibernation sites, and we don’t weed out all the non-invasive self-sown flowers, so there aren’t large gaps of bare soil between plants. We don’t use pesticides, weedkillers or artificial fertilizers, and the Town Council have reduced their use of pesticides and weedkillers in this area, too. This year we are experimenting with FoE members using a weed burner on the paths in the gardens, to save the Town Council having to spray weedkiller.
For more information about bees and how you can help, see https://www.foe.co.uk/page/bee-cause, including a guide to identifying bees.