Can you spare just 15 minutes a month to help monitor bee numbers in Tower Hamlets? That’s all it takes to join in the Tower Hamlets Bee Survey.
The plight of bees has been much in the news in recent years. Honey bees have suffered from various diseases, though there are now far more honey bees in London than ever, with the growth of popularity in bee-keeping. The honey bee is almost exclusively a domestic animal in Britain, but there are many other species of wild bees, of which the bumblebees are the best known. Wild bee populations have also suffered, due to a combination of habitat loss and pesticides. Bees are vitally important as pollinators of food crops, so we are right to be worried about their declines.
The best way to help bees is to plant lots of different nectar-rich flowers which ensure a good supply of pollen and nectar throughout as much of the year as possible. It’s also important never to use pesticides on plants while they are flowering – the chemicals which kill insect pests will also kill bees. In Tower Hamlets, the Council, housing providers, developers, community groups and residents have been doing their best to increase the amount of nectar-rich flowers across the borough, and we will continue to make bees a priority in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan. We are asking residents to help us monitor whether this is working to increase bee populations.
To take part, all you need to do is select a site where bees visit flowers, and count bees there for 15 minutes at least once a month. The site can be a local park, community garden, your own garden, or even a planter or window box. Every volunteer will receive a free laminated Bee Identification Guide (see image left), and training sessions will be arranged. Full details of the survey, and a recording form, can be downloaded here. Once you have registered for the survey, you can enter your counts online on Greenspace Information for Greater London’s website, or send paper forms to the Biodiversity Officer if you don’t have access to the internet.
To register for the survey, and to receive your free Bee Identification Guide, please e-mail the Biodiversity Officer, giving your name, postal
address (so we can send your identification chart) and details of where in Tower Hamlets you want to count bees.
Header photo: Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Erysimum “Bowles’ Mauve” (Paul Wilson)