Ecotricity founder Dale Vince has joined wildlife and gardening experts up and down the country in calling on the public to grow weeds to help save Britain’s bees.
That’s after the launch of the Great British Bee Count today - an annual survey which enables people to find out more about the bees that visit our gardens, parks and countryside and discover what they can do to help them.
The campaign, now in its fifth year, takes place from 17 May – 30 June, and is run by Friends of the Earth, supported by Buglife, and sponsored by Ecotalk – the green mobile phone network from Ecotricity which is set to launch this summer.
Using a fun, free and easy-to-use app, thousands of verified sightings from this year’s Great British Bee Count will be submitted to the government’s Pollinator Monitoring Scheme [PoMS] – which will provide the first comprehensive nationwide health check for Britain’s wild bees and other pollinators.
Britain’s bees are in trouble. 35 UK bee species are under threat of extinction, and all species face serious threats. The decline in bees' diversity and abundance would have a serious impact on how our natural world functions, including on our food crops.
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity and Ecotalk, said: “Britain’s bees play a vital role in our environment and in pollinating the crops that feed us - but for the last 50 years they’ve been in decline, this is mostly due to the impact of industrial scale farming as well as a general loss of habitat - land for nature.
“The Great British Bee Count is a great initiative, and Ecotalk is delighted to support it. We’ve launched Ecotalk, Britain's green mobile phone service, powered by renewable energy with the proceeds being used to buy land and give it back to nature - to create new habitats for the bees and other creatures of Britain.”
Ecotalk is a new kind of mobile phone service, as all calls, texts and data services are powered by 100% green energy from the wind and sun. The focus is bees, because by creating new habitats for bees, all nature will benefit. So each time a customer uses their phone on Ecotalk, they’re helping to ‘put the bee back in Britain’.
Friends of the Earth Bee campaigner Emi Murphy said: “Join the Great British Bee Count and do your bit to help the nation’s bees.
“Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats bees face – so it’s the perfect excuse to get a bit lazy in the garden this summer and allow things to grow wild and play your part in protecting these crucial pollinators.”
People are being urged to play their part in helping Britain’s bees and other wildlife by allowing their gardens to grow a bit wilder, with a few wildflowers or ‘weeds’ and long grass patches.
Alys Fowler, The Guardian, said: “Some call them weeds, but I call them rambunctious joy, because surely that is what something that chooses to flower whatever the weather, however many times its head is chopped off, despite being trodden on, is called – to be so triumphant despite others’ prejudice.
“And prejudice is just what it is because whilst we were mislabelling them weeds rather than wildflowers they carried on with their vital work, feeding our bees, pollinators, beneficial insects and beetles, whatever the weather, wherever they grow.”
Kate Bradbury, Daily Telegraph, Gardeners' World magazine, said: "The more we learn about the different bees that visit our gardens, parks and schools, the more we can do to help them. There are so many bees to learn about, from big buzzy bumblebees to teeny tiny solitary bees, not to mention the well-loved honeybee. Every single one has a different flower or nesting preference, something that makes them unique.”
The Great British Bee Count free app contains information on what people can do to help bees including a bee spotting guide and a bee-friendly plant guide as well as a map of bee sightings.
Sign up now at www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk.
To sign up to Ecotalk visit www.ecotalk.co.uk.
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