BERE Marsh Farm, the Countryside Restoration Trust’s showcase farm by the Stour near Shillingstone in Dorset, will be at the heart of a pioneering project to make the Blackmore Vale a hive of activity for bees and bee enthusiasts.
Gardening clubs, schools, parish councils, allotment holders, indeed any organisation or group, will be invited to participate in the creation of a flower shaped network of bee-friendly corridors — known as ‘BeeWayzz.’
The corridors, roughly in the shape of flower petals, will radiate from the Bere Marsh central hub to follow little used country lanes, bridleways, public footpaths and ancient droves so that local bee populations are given a better chance to expand and re-populate parts of the countryside from which they have been driven out in recent years. The aim is that the bees will also grow healthier and stronger in the process.
Elaine Spencer White, secretary of the BeeWayzz Hub, says: “It is such an original and appealing idea that we feel sure it will capture the imagination of everyone. Bees are beloved by us all and, quite literally, are fundamental to the very future of mankind. Without them we would not get the food we eat.”
The plan will be unveiled on 20th May, World Bee Day. It will start with a corridor from Shillingstone to Durweston and Hanford to Turnworth. This will be the blueprint to create four more corridors over the next four years, all radiating from Bere Marsh Farm.
The key to the project’s success will be extensive planting along the corridors of annual and perennial plants and flowers to provide substantial and consistent supplies of pollen and nectar for the roaming bees all summer long.
“We hope everyone will want to play their part – people’s gardens and village allotments are every bit as important as field margins and roadside verges for the bees to adopt as foraging corridors,” says Elaine.
During the autumn, BeeWayzz Hub volunteers will embark on a roadshow of talks, seminars and presentations to the widest possible audience throughout Blackmore Vale. including farmers’ groups, garden clubs, allotment organisations, parish and local councils, schools, church organisations and WI groups.
The Hub will also encourage interest in the little known art of natural beekeeping – maintaining hives but leaving the honey for the bees themselves so that they grow healthier and stronger. This will help to arrest the decline of populations among various bee species.
Elaine explains: “We want to encourage greater interest in nurturing bees rather than taking their honey. To do this we have a five year plan to train people in the skills of building the right kind of hives, known as top-bar hives, and then passing on these skills to others. Natural beekeeping is an ancient craft which has almost died out and we are intent on reviving it.”
If BeeWayzz really takes off, the group has plans to take it into the rest of the county and even beyond that., says Elaine: “We see this as a project which hopefully will capture the imagination and active support of thousands. It’s so simple and yet can achieve so much to reverse the fortunes of the creatures which are so crucial to our very environment – after all, its success is for our own good.”