British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

Working for Wildlife

Honey Bee Friendly Park Project

Join the Honey Bee Friendly Park Project

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Bees are a vital part of the British countryside. Not only are they beautiful and fascinating creatures, they are one of the most important pollinators of crops and other plants. That’s why the recent dramatic decline in many of Britain’s bee species is such bad news.

To help, the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme (DBCAS) has teamed up with the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) to run the Honey Bee Friendly Park Project.

The project aims to get as many BH&HPA member parks as possible working to conserve Britain’s bees.

In 2016, over 500 member parks took the Honey Bee Pledge and did lots of important work for bee conservation. This year, all participating DBCAS parks will receive the Honey Bee Pledge logo to display to show that they are committed to bee conservation.

The benefits of being involved

  • >it offers an exciting way to do something really important for Britain’s wildlife

  • >it will help you achieve your conservation and DBCAS goals

  • >it will help make your park an even more beautiful place for people to stay and will help you enhance the experience of your homeowners and visitors

  • >it’s a great way to let everyone know what you’re doing for wildlife and to help others do their bit

  • >it will give you an interesting story to tell - this will help generate publicity, and content for your social media and website

  • >if you get a hive or hives you’ll be able to make your own honey – and sell it!

  • >You could also discover a wonderful new hobby, as many park owners have already.

What you need to do

Simply display the Honey Bee Pledge logo to show you are doing your bit (if you don’t want to take part, simply don’t display the logo).

If you’ve already been working on this project for the last year or two, do what you can in all three steps of the project (see next page for details).

If you’re just starting out on being bee friendly, then focus on Step 1 (you can, of course do steps 2 and 3 if you want!).

And be Honey Bee Friendly!

If, in the view of your DBCAS assessor, you have contributed enough to bee conservation you will receive a certificate to confirm your park is a Honey Bee Friendly Park 2017/18.

Step 1: plant food for bees

It’s all about forage,” says the BBKA, who explain that honey bees need to be able to find flowering plants to get the nectar and pollen they require from early spring through to early winter.

Providing this food resource for as long a period of time not only supports honey bees but also helps solitary bees, hoverflies and other pollinators.

Over the course of a 2017/18 do what you can to provide the pollen and nectar producing forage plants that honey and other sorts of bees need to survive.

What to do …

To provide the flowering plants that bees need, make sure that there is something for bees to feed on from February/March through to September/October. This will involve four main planting periods over the year:

  • >winter/spring: planting spring and summer flowering bulbs

  • >spring/summer: planting flowering trees and shrubs

  • >summer/autumn: sowing pollen and nectar-rich wild flower seed mixtures

  • >autumn/winter: creating an herbaceous border filled with long flowering plants.

You will probably be doing much of this work as part of your normal park management. However, once you have taken the honey bee pledge, look at everything with an eye to providing nectar and pollen for as long a period of time as possible.

If none of the above work is being done, plan it into your schedule. If it is being done, do a bit more than you would have normally!

A great list of plants to use is available at: www.bbka.org.uk/learn/gardening_for_bees.

Step 2: spread the word about bees

Do what you can to get everyone interested in bee conservation by providing information, activities and interpretation.

Once you have got your bee-friendly planting under way, let everyone know – this will spread the word about bee conservation. This is vital, as everyone can do their bit to help Britain’s bees and spread the word to their friends and relations. Many parks have already found that their homeowners and visitors are very interested in bees and that some are beekeepers.

What to do…

There are many ways to spread the word about bee conservation. You can:

  • >incorporate bee conservation messages into existing interpretation/wildlife activity work. For example, add a sign about bees to your existing nature trail

  • >put information about bees and what is being done to help them in a newsletter, welcome pack etc. talk about bees on your website and blog

  • >run bee friendly activities for kids and grown-ups. Local beekeeping associations may be able to help you with this go to www.bbka.org.uk to find the nearest association

  • >select a bee conservation charity as a chosen wildlife charity and raise money for it in fun ‘bee-related’ ways

  • >point homeowners/visitors in the direction of bee-friendly gardening advice so that they can make their gardens as bee friendly as your park. Stock bee-friendly wildlife seed mixtures for them to buy.

All of these ideas show how caring for bees can be used to enhance the experience a park offers and how bee-friendly interpretation and activities can be used to show what your park is doing for wildlife.

Step 3: give bees a home

Providing a home for bees is a great way to help conserve them. This can be done in many ways – by putting in a bee hotel, setting aside places for bees to nest, adopting and looking after a hive for a local beekeeping association or by becoming a beekeeper. Providing places for bees to live will give a real focus for your bee-related activities and interpretation.

What to do

  • >open a bee hotel: a bee hotel provides a place for the red mason bee to lay their eggs. Commercial versions are available online. You can also make your own out of a bundle of 10-20 cm long sections of old bamboo canes. Position the hotel in a sunny spot out of the rain. A bumblebee nest can even be made out of an old flowerpot, see www.bumblebeeconservation.org for details.

>create nesting areas: many bee species nest in holes, so leave strips of undisturbed rough grassland adjacent to hedgerows, and in field corners or banks

>host a hive: one easy way to get a hive or hives is to link up with a local beekeeping association and act as a host for a hive or hives. To find a local association, simply visit www.bbka.org.uk to find a full listing. Visit www.pollinationdating.com/ to register a park as a place to act as a host for a hive(s).

>become a beekeeper: beekeeping is a fantastic hobby, but it is important to understand what’s involved. Help is at hand as the BBKA run beekeeping courses around the country. These will tell you just what you’ll need to do to set up and look after a hive. They will also provide you with access to a local support network and will provide help with sourcing bees.

How to report on what’s been done

As you go bee friendly, take photographs and make notes about what you’re doing. When your DBCAS assessor visits, show them what’s been done and let them know your plans. If your park is not due an assessment, then simply email photographs and details of progress to beefriendlyparks@aol.com throughout the year and if possible to be received no later than 31 August 2017. We’d also love to hear your bee-friendly news at any time – use the same e-mail to get in touch.

Is it safe to have bees on a park?

For those concerned about safety – bees are generally docile animals and hives need to be placed in quiet areas away from people, so the danger of stings is minimal.

For more information:

If you have any questions, simply email Rufus Bellamy at beefriendlyparks@aol.com.

For more advice and information about all aspects of beekeeping and bee conservation, contact the British Beekeepers Association:

Web: www.bbka.org.uk
Email: bbka@bbka.org.uk

Another excellent place to find information about bees and how to help them is www.bumblebeeconservation.org


 

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More information:

  • Click here for an indepth article on how you can help conserve Britain's bees.
  • Click here to find out more about our Honey Bee Friendly Park Project.