Did you know there are more than 250 species of bee living in the UK? They are responsible for pollinating over 66% of the world’s crop species and contribute to one third of the food we eat. Bees drink the sweet nectar of flowers, moving and transferring pollen as they go fertilising plants resulting in the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Without pollinators our supermarket shelves would look very different, for example, there would be no strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes or chocolate!
A number of factors, including habitat loss and diseases, have meant that bees are in trouble and action must be taken now to help them.
Bee Keeping at Stanwick Lakes
Over 10 years ago Rockingham Forest Trust started a bee conservation project to help the plight of the honey bee. The legacy of this project lives on and there are still four very healthy, active and strong, double brood hives (which means there are more in the colony) on site at Stanwick Lakes managed by a local bee keeper. Unfortunately, due to very poor spring weather there is no honey, but when we do have some we will sell it in the shop.
Managing Stanwick Lakes for Bees
A careful mowing schedule at Stanwick Lakes ensures there are always plenty of nectar sources for the bees. A third of the crops in the area rely on bees for pollination, so this is really important. There are also special areas in the hub area that have been planted with bees in mind, including the area outside the Visitor Centre and the Settlers Heritage Garden.
Other pollinating insects, such as flies, beetles, moths and butterflies are also important and should not be overlooked. Get up close to the ones that make Stanwick Lakes their home by taking a stroll through paths have been mown recently through banks of nettles, grass and cow parsley and let us know what you spot!
How Can You help?
Plant a range of bee-friendly flowering plants in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October, for example, primrose, buddleia and marigolds. If it is possible, leave a section of your garden untended and buy or build an insect hotel to provide a home for bees and other insects. Look out for Bug Hotels in the shop in the Visitor Centre and ‘Seedboms’ which contain a nectar-rich wildflower seed mix loved by bees and other pollinating insects.
Buy sustainable, local honey as this will support honeybees in your local area and local beekeepers in their efforts. Also, there are less food miles with local honey as often it will have only travelled a few miles. You could even consider becoming a bee keeper and have a hive in your garden!