UK schools are being enlisted in the fight to protect our ever-dwindling bee population.
School grounds across the country are to be transformed into bee-friendly habitats thanks to £1.3 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Charity Learning through Landscapes is overseeing the “Project Polli:Nation” work, which will involve as many as 260 schools.
It is estimated that “free” pollination by Britain’s bee population is worth more than £400 million a year to our agriculture industries.
However, the UK bee population has been in decline in recent years, with researchers recording a 54 per cent fall in managed honey bees between 1985 and 2005. Various reasons have been put forward including increasing disease, more intensive farming methods leading to fewer wild flowers and plants, and the use of some insecticides.
The Polli:Nation project will monitor changes in species diversity and numbers as a result of its intervention. Another key aim will be develop a network of young enthusiasts in the 260 schools.
All schools in the UK will be able to apply to participate in the programme, which will be delivered by Learning through Landscapes and will train teachers and students to make the necessary changes to their school grounds to create bee-friendly habitats.
These include introducing pollinator-friendly plants, night-blooming flowers to draw in moths, constructing bee-hives, and letting areas of the school grounds become wild.
Other ideas include “bug houses” (pictured above) to encourage the local insect populations as well as changing maintenance schedules and reducing any use of pesticides.
The schools will be supported by biodiversity and landscape experts from the charity, who could also advise on introducing orchards and wild meadow areas, green walls and ivy growth to attract the bees and other insects.
Juno Hollyhock, executive director of Learning through Landscapes, said: “We believe that this important and inspiring project will help children and young people to learn about the development of their natural environments, both in and out of their school grounds, teaching them that the changes we make to our environment can have a profound effect on critical issues such as our declining bee population.”
The project is being supported by the Field Studies Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, and the OPAL Network. For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @ltl_outdoors on Twitter.