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Get Hebden Bridge Buzzing

Help our bees

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

With the launch of the new bee partnership – Get Calderdale Buzzing! – this weekend (Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 June 2014) Calderdale residents now have the opportunity to help save our bees – and other pollinating insects such as butterflies, moths and hoverflies – who do so much essential work for us, pollinating many of our food crops and wildflowers.

These insects need our help. Loss of wildflower-rich meadows (a massive 97% of wildflower-rich meadows have been lost in the UK since the 1940s) has contributed to a decline in over two thirds of UK pollinators, including many species of bees and bumblebees.

This is why a large group of organisations including Calderdale Council Countryside Service, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Halifax Scientific Society, Bee Friendly Collective of Todmorden, Upper Calderdale Wildlife Network and Calderdale Sustainability Forum have joined together to create Get Calderdale Buzzing! And they want others to join the partnership. Central to their work is the designation of a 'B-Line' across Calderdale, a connected corridor of improved habitat on either side of the River Calder as part of the UK-wide B-Lines Initiative being developed by wildlife charity, Buglife.

One young person who needed no invitation is Jack Daniel Anderson-Martin (or JD as he's known) of Hebden Bridge who hit the headlines in 2012 when at the age of 7 he became Britain's youngest qualified beekeeper. Since then, his hives have gone from strength to strength, so Get Calderdale Buzzing! is particularly pleased to welcome him as their official Young Ambassador.

His first task has been to sign up his own school, Scout Road Academy, Mytholmroyd to become the first school in the new Calderdale B-Line to take part in the project. Buglife will be helping children develop their own pollinator improvement plan to make the school site more 'bee friendly', and then provide some funding to help make it a reality. It's hoped that other Calderdale schools will be able to learn from their work and then take up the challenge to Get Calderdale Buzzing.

Activity this weekend to launch Get Calderdale Buzzing! includes:

  • Download the free smartphone app provided by Buglife, Friends of the Earth and B&Q at www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk and go out and see how many different bees and bumblebees you can spot. Over half a million have been snapped so far! You can use it until the end of August and we'll use the information to plan our future work.
  • 'Making Homes for Bees': Families can learn how to make bug hotels and 'plant a wildflower meadow in a pot' at Manor Heath on Sunday 29 June between 10am and 3.30pm (Marquee in Walled Garden, Manor Heath Park and Jungle Experience, Manor Heath Road, Halifax HX3 0EB).

Get Calderdale Buzzing! has its own pages on the new Green Calderdale website, also launching this week. The new website brings together information about many aspects of our environment: campaigning, opportunities to volunteer on countryside projects, and places to go. You can find out about upcoming events on its calendar feature listing things to do in Calderdale's countryside.

In the long term the bee partnership will be trying to work with other organisations such as local wildlife or conservation groups; farmers and landowners, and beekeeping societies to restore and create more flower-rich habitat along the Calderdale B-Line. To find out more contact info@greencalderdale.org.uk

Calderdale Council's Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said, "Bees need all the help we can give them. Calderdale Council strongly supports this initiative and believes that partnership working will get results. We will be reviewing our management of parks and open spaces and looking for opportunities to create habitats for bees."

Paul Evans, Buglife's B-Lines Officer says, "It's great to see the Calderdale Partnership taking up the challenge of helping to develop a B-Lines up the Calder Valley. Hopefully this will enthuse land owners, schools, gardeners and the local authority to restore and create more wildflower-rich habitats."

Anthony Rae for Calderdale Friends of the Earth said, "Friends of the earth having been campaigning for the last two years for the government to produce a national Bee Action Plan, and now that's on its way. Get Calderdale Buzzing! is our local 'action plan' and we know lots of people will want to join in."

JD said, "My beehive has 60,000 bees, when I walk around Hebden Bridge I'm always looking out for my bees on flowers and wondering if they are from my hive. I think the bees are our friends and we must treat them like we would our own friends. They work so hard, some in dangerous places full of chemicals sprays and pollution. It is our job to help the bees find plenty of free food. If we grow plants that are full of nectar and pollen they will come and improve that area for them and for us too. I don't know what's stopping us from starting now – hopefully our little projects, like the one at my school, will spread into other areas so that everyone can enjoy gardens and parks that are full of life and bees!"