Bristol’s been in the spotlight in recent years for it’s growing urban food and growing movement – and heading into 2015 as Europe’s Green Capital it’s not hard to see why there’s over 40 community growing projects within the city – self-sufficiency is top of the agenda.
There’s large initiatives like The Severn Project, a large urban salad farm and social enterprise, Feed Bristol and Edible Futures, community growing schemes, and Incredible Edible, a grassroots movement encouraging everyone to grow food in urban spares. By the growing success of these projects, Bristol is on it’s way towards feeding itself.
There’s a big problem, however. Or rather, lots of small ones. With stings.
There are 250 species of bee in the UK, and only 25 of these are native. The entire population has dropped nearly 50% over the past 20 years, and dwindling numbers of these insects, along with other pollinators, has a tremendous negative effect on British crop yields.
Professor Jane Memmott from the University of Bristol is asking for everyone to recognise the importance of bees and pollinators. Since 2011, Jane and her academic team at the Urban Pollinators Project have been heading up research into insect pollinators in urban habitats and they’ve come up with some fascinating results.
Bumbles and solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths – our native pollinators – are in decline because their natural habitats, wildflower meadows and wild countryside fields, have been destroyed. Despite this bleak situation, there’s still hope. It seems the bee has been urbanised, taken to foraging for food in city gardens, allotments and parks.
The message is clear: wildlife can prosper in urban environments. No matter where we live we are part of this ecosystem. That said, if we’re going to increase yields of British crops, and push farming into cities, we’re going to have consider these critters and the huge part they play in plant growth and reproduction.
There’s lots we townies can do. Green-fingered or not, we can plant English Lavender, Fuschias, Great MasterWorts and Buddleia in our gardens, car parks, allotments and pathways. Though you’re itching to weed, try to leave dandelions, daisies, thistles and buttercups. To pollinators, they’re the bees knees!
How to help save bees