An ambitious project to help the UK's bumblebees is generating a real buzz. Thousands of gardeners have already signed up to the Bee Kind scheme, which is backed by TV's Kate Humble. There are just a few days to go before the competition to find Britain's Bee Kind garden of the year closes. Bumblebee numbers have declined steeply because agricultural changes have destroyed their natural habitats. With the public's help, the Bee kind campaign aims to help reverse these declines by turning gardens into bumblebee oases.
By using a clever interactive web tool, the public can easily get a Bee Kind score for their garden, park or window box, then receive suggestions for other plants to include. They can also register their bee-friendly garden and see how their score compares with friends, neighbours and other participants. The highest-scoring gardens are in with a chance of winning a range of prizes. Over 14,000 people have already registered their Bee Kind gardens from all corners of the UK. To be in with a chance of winning a prize, the public must take part before the 23rd July.
Bombus lapidarius (Fiona Barclay).
TV's Kate Humble, a supporter of the scheme, is urging the public to get involved: "The Bee Kind website tool is brilliant — it makes it really easy for people to find out how good their garden is for bees and suggests simple and affordable changes to cater for the bees' needs. Anyone can become involved and it doesn't matter where they live. We can all do our bit just by planting a few colourful flowers, and the Bee Kind tool will show you how."
The campaign is funded through a £340,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT). Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: "Bumblebees are a crucial part of the UK's ecosystem and our natural heritage so it's alarming to see how numbers have been declining in recent years. The innovative Bee Kind tool and competition will help to protect our bumblebees, encouraging people across the country to learn more about these fascinating insects and how to make gardens and window boxes bee-friendly habitats."
By working with both the public and large-scale landowners, BBCT's CEO Dr Ben Darvill hopes to begin a reversal in the recent fortunes of these important insects: "In the last 70 years, two bumblebee species have become extinct and many more have declined rapidly," Ben said. "It's easy to take them for granted, but without their work as pollinators our crops would be less productive and our wildflowers would produce fewer seeds. Important five-a-day fruit and vegetables could become more expensive and our countryside would lose its colour."