England will be a hive of activity this summer as BBC Local Radio joins forces with the National Trust for a major national campaign, launching on Monday 17 May, supported by Springwatch presenter Kate Humble, to investigate the plight of honeybees in Britain.
As part of the Bee Part Of It! campaign, each BBC Local Radio station is adopting its own honeybee hive, based at a National Trust property, allowing listeners to follow the developing wildlife drama of a new honeybee colony on-air and online.
The collapse of honeybee colonies has been widely reported, but most of the UK’s 250 bee species appear to be in decline, which has serious consequences for crop pollination.
The aim of the national Bee Part Of It! campaign is to investigate and highlight the decline of the honeybee population in Britain and to encourage people locally up and down the country to get together and do what they can to help the honeybee re-establish itself.
The project has been adopted by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, at the University of Worcester. It will be taking samples of pollen, dead bees and honey across the season for analysis. The Unit hopes this will provide some more clues about the causes of colony decline.
There are plenty of ways for people to lend their support to help honeybees. Planting the sort of plants and flowers the bees love in gardens, pots, windowsills and balconies would go a long way to encouraging the numbers of bees to increase.
BBC Local Radio stations are distributing packets of bee-friendly seeds to aid listeners in their support of the bee colonies and offering people the chance to help create new wildflower-rich spaces that will attract bees and other pollinating insects.
Springwatch’s Kate Humble says of the Bee Part Of It! campaign: “I first got interested in bees when I was filming with a local bee-keeper for Springwatch and realised that by becoming a beekeeper I could do something really tangible to help the fairly desperate situation that our bee population has found itself in.
“Most of our wild honeybees have died out and we, as humans, are very dependent on bees to pollinate food crops.”
She continues: “To have bees visit you is like having nature’s own expert team of gardeners working really hard for you as they help pollinate your vegetable patch, fruit trees, flowers – anything that depends on pollination. Having bees in your garden is a cause for celebration – invite them in!”
Beccy Speight, the National Trust’s local food champion, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the BBC on this project, and we hope the 40 new bee colonies we are introducing at National Trust properties across the countries will thrive.
“Without the honeybee, our environment could change dramatically.”
People can also show their support for the Bee Part Of It! campaign by contributing through Flickr on www.flickr.com/groups/bbc_beepartofit/ and via Facebook on www.facebook.com/bbcbeepartofit.
Bee Part Of It! is a BBC Local partnership with the National Trust. The project is supported by the British Beekeepers’ Association, The Wildlife Trusts, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife and the Department of Apiculture at the University of Sussex.