Bee 'roads' planned for UK

An alarm­ing de­cline in bee numbers has prompted a UK co-op­er­a­tive group to ini­ti­ate a clever – and beau­ti­ful – so­lu­tion.

Element - - Abeeco -

As spring broke across the UK this year, swarms of York­shire bees were the un­wit­ting ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a new ini­tia­tive: the bee road. The lesser knap­weed, field scabi­ous, birds­foot tre­foil and red clover are among the wild­flower species that are be­ing planted in a se­ries of ‘bee high­ways’ across the county in a trial ex­per­i­ment. In­creas­ingly rare in the Bri­tish coun­try­side, these wild­flow­ers are an im­por­tant, di­verse source of pol­lens for bee pop­u­la­tions.

The scheme – called ‘Plan Bee’ – is run by The Co-op­er­a­tive Group, the UK’s largest mu­tual busi­ness, owned not by pri­vate share­hold­ers but by al­most six mil­lion con­sumers. It is the UK’s fifth big­gest food re­tailer, the lead­ing con­ve­nience store op­er­a­tor and a ma­jor fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider.

The first Bee Roads have been cre­ated in York­shire, where landown­ers sowed wild­flow­ers in two long rows that will even­tu­ally stretch north to south and east to west across the county. The bee roads are planned to even­tu­ally criss-cross the en­tire coun­try.

In recog­ni­tion of the key role that wild­flower habi­tats play in sus­tain­ing pol­li­na­tors, The Co-op­er­a­tive’s Plan Bee is also giv­ing away a fur­ther 300,000 pack­ets of wild­flower seeds in 2011.

You may re­mem­ber the

ild ower Project’, which ten years ago turned the

me­dian strip be­tween south and north-bound

lanes of the South­ern Mo­tor­way into a riot of colour

through the spring and sum­mer. e can only imag­ine the

pol­li­na­tion bene ts on the sur­round­ing bread

bas­ket’ crop­ping ar­eas ei­ther side of State migh­way

dne. Many hor­ti­cul­tural ar­eas,

par­tic­u­larly in the S, have be­come green deserts,

says Mau­reen Maxwell, the wo­man be­hind

the ild ower Bee Tes­cue ound here in eew

ealand. It is un­healthy for bees

to have ac­cess to only pollen from one type of

plant, much as if you and I ate Mc­son­alds ev­ery day

for ev­ery meal we would soon be un­well. The ild ower Bee Tes­cue

ound is charg­ing $5 for a packet of wild ower

seeds which, when sewn, will be­come

a sq m patch of kalei­do­scopic colour and

will at­tract bees in large numbers. The ini­tia­tive is

de­signed to raise funds for the eational Bee­keep­ers

As­so­ci­a­tion, which will use the money to ed­u­cate

the pub­lic about the im­por­tance of look­ing

af­ter our bees. Sew these cheer­ful, easy-

to-grow, easy-to-sew seeds and ev­ery­one gets

to win – in­clud­ing the bees, says Maxwell. To pur­chase the wild ower

seeds visit www.wild­for­age.co.nz

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