Bees in the City

Last week, on the 25th Aug, two honey bee hives have found a new home on the roof of Chaucer building in the heart of Nottingham. The aim is to add to the network of pollinators around the city at the time when their numbers are drastically falling. We are also planning flower beds for the roof to provide food for all local pollinators.

Placing the bees on Chaucer will give them good access to the Boots Library rooftop garden, the Arboretum, Dryden Corner and many other green spaces around the city – honey bees can easily fly for a couple of miles to find sources of food. As they collect food they will pollinate a wide variety of flowers, allowing the plants to set seed. It is estimated that 84% of EU crops and 80% of wildflowers rely on pollination so it is a hugely valuable process for people, plants, and wildlife. As the intensification of agriculture has made the countryside less hospitable, our urban environments have become increasingly important for insects. Our honeybees will be an important addition to Nottingham’s invertebrate community.

bees 1(Right: Chris Pryke-Hendy from NTU Environment team. Left: Nigel Smith NTU Resources Manager, setting up the bee hives on top of Chaucer)

As well as honeybees, there are a wide variety of native invertebrate pollinators in the UK, including bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, bugs, and beetles. In total, this accounts for at least 4000 wild species that pollinate our crops and wild flowers. However, more than 60% of pollinators are in decline in the UK so they need all the help they can get!

However, honeybees only make up a portion of insect pollination so we can all do our bit to help a variety of invertebrates. Some simple things to do are:

  • Plant pollinator friendly plants that will flower from spring to autumn
  • Let your garden get a little wild
  • Create a log pile
  • Make or buy homes for solitary bees
  • Avoid insecticides
  • If you don’t have a garden try a creating window box
  • If you see a tired looking bee on the ground, revive it with a spoon of sugar and water
  • Get involved in local projects such as community meadows and allotments
  • Contact the council if you think an area near you could benefit from less frequent maintenance
  • Record pollinators you see and submit your findings to national or local counts

bee 2

We will be placing cameras on the hives which will stream live to a dedicated web page so everyone can keep an eye them. A previous attempt at keeping hives on Newton building failed because it was too windy, but we are hoping these bees will find Chaucer to be a more suitable and sheltered place to live. Keep an eye out for bee updates on the website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Further information:

Bug Life: pollination

Sustainable Pollination Services for UK Crops

What can you do to help bees at home?

RSPB: give nature a home in your garden

Grow a bee and butterfly garden



-This blog post was written by Kate Divey-Matthews the Environmental Engagement Assistant in the Environment Team at NTU. Many thanks from the Green Academy! 

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