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.
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