Bees in the City: Supporting Communities and the Environment

At Heart of the City we are always interested in new ways to support our local communities and the environment. Monday 10th July is “Don’t Step on a Bee Day”, the UK’s annual bee awareness day, so we had a look at what we can be doing to support bees in the City.

 


You are likely to have seen at least one of the numerous on-going campaigns highlighting the decline of bees across the UK and beyond. The exact causes are lacking in concrete evidence, but it appears so far that the factors include use of pesticides, imported and invasive pests, diseases and a lack of suitable flowers.

Interestingly, the bee population in London is not doing so badly! Typically London’s gardens and parks have longer flowering seasons than average and there are an ever increasing amount of beekeepers in the capital. The main worry is that such a high density of bees in one city will not be sustainable and that this will also allow disease to spread more easily across the entire population.

A lot of people ask: “why is this important to me? I don’t even like honey!” Well, bees are critical pollinators. To throw out some statistics, bees pollinate 70 of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the entire world. It is estimated that honey bees alone are responsible for $30 billion annually in crops. But the problems wouldn’t end there. A loss of bees would result in the loss of the plants that they pollinate; this would affect the animals that eat those plants causing a chain reaction all the way up to us. You would soon notice the amount of fruit and veg available at your local supermarket cut by half and the world would quickly struggle to feed and maintain its 7.5 billion population.

What can you do to help?

  1. Plant pollinator-friendly plants.
    You can find numerous resources online with details of pollinator-friendly plants, for example the Royal Horticultural Society has this list and garden centres will often label plants that are good for bees.
  2. Avoid using insecticides and “bug killers”!
    It’s important to remember that despite all of their hard work in supporting the agricultural industry and services to mankind, bees are still insects, and as such – insecticides are toxic to them. It is thought that even in small quantities they can interfere with the bee’s navigation and stop them from being able to find the hive.
  3. Support bee-loving organisations.
    You can support or partner with a local bee-loving group such as Urban Bees. Some City companies with beehives on their roof including Lloyd’s, Mansion House and St Paul’s have the hives managed and maintained by Urban Bees. The organisation promotes sustainable and responsible urban beekeeping as well as working with communities, charities and corporates to create new hives and a better habitat and environment for bees.

Some City hives are managed by another fantastic social enterprise called The Golden Company. The Golden Co. works with young people from the local area, helping them into employment and providing them with accredited training and paid work placements.

Partnerships like these make a beehive project not only good for the environment and biodiversity, but a great community support venture combined.

That’s two wins for your CSR programme for the price of one.

www.urbanbees.co.uk

 

Written by Jodie Thwaites, Finance and Technology Officer at Heart of the City.

Related Article: Top 5 Benefits of a Green Roof for People and Planet

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