Bee awards presented at Kew

An inner-London 'nectar bar' and a disused coal mine transformed into a pollen-rich hay meadow are among a range of projects helping protect the nation's pollinators being celebrated by Defra Minister Lord Gardiner.

The Bees’ Needs Champions Awards, hosted at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, brings together 30 champions to celebrate bee-friendly initiatives, from playgrounds to parks and farms to Carnaby Street.

Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity Lord Gardiner said: "Pollinators are essential for food production and the environment. The Bees’ Needs champions show us how to keep our pollinators happy and healthy all year round, and their efforts are an inspiration for us all. They show that whether you have access to acres of land or just a window box, everyone can play a part in helping these vital insects thrive."

The awards are in six categories: youth groups, schools, local authorities, farming, construction and community groups. They have been judged for adopting Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy. 

In Sydenham, south London, Grow Mayow community garden features its own 'nectar bar'. Originally an old park keeper depot, it is now home to a garden with wild flowers and a beehive. Over winter, the garden is planted with green manure.

In Shropshire, the site of a former coal mine, the Severn Valley Country Park opened in 1992 and since then volunteers have been looking after five hectares of hay meadows and bee hives. Volunteers trained as beekeepers are harvesting mason bee larvae to give to local fruit growers, so young bees can grow and pollinate fruit crops.

Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth, one of the organisations working with the Government to put the National Pollinator Strategy into effect, said: "These terrific Pollinator Heroes from across the country show how everyone can help bees and pollinators anytime, anyplace, anywhere—all year round and wherever we live.

"The beauty is, you don’t have to wait for summer to start playing your part in reversing bee and pollinator decline. Taking action also helps bring the National Pollinator Strategy alive in homes, at work, at school and in your community. Let’s all be part of the generation to save our bees."

Lord Gardiner added: "Bees are a much-loved feature of English summertime and crucial contributors to our biodiversity and our economy. But it is important not to forget bees’ needs during the winter months too, when providing food and a home are more important than ever.

"Planting evergreens for winter food and leaving areas of gardens undisturbed through the winter to provide homes mean we can all help pollinators emerge safely in the spring."

For winter pollinators, Defra recommended planting mahonia, ivy, clematis, letting lawn grow, leaving dead plant stems, planting bulbs like crocus, primrose, snowdrop of coltsfoot that flower in February and March and planting acacia, blackthorn and hazel.


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