A buzz of excitement over Minister’s visit to see bee work

editorial image

Leighton’s work to become a bee-friendly town has created a buzz of excitement in 

So much so that George Eustice MP, a Minister at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has agreed to visit to see the good work being undertaken by Leighton-Linslade Town Council, Central Bedfordshire Council and South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth .

Leighton has made pioneering efforts to show how bee populations can be supported in an urban environment and the town’s MP Andrew Selous has now highlighted the work in the Commons.

He told Parliament: “The town council, Central Bedfordshire Council and South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth have done excellent work in encouraging bees by planting wild flowers and leaving areas of grass uncut. That has made a huge difference—a lot of volunteers are onside. Will the Minister agree to come to see that work to see whether it can be replicated elsewhere? Perhaps at least one of his officials could come.”

Mr Eustice responded: “Yes, the initiative in Leighton Buzzard my hon. Friend describes is an excellent example of good practice in action. I will be delighted to visit his constituency in Leighton Buzzard and see the project myself.

“Bees and other pollinators are vital for the environment and our food production. We want to ensure they survive and thrive.

“The national pollinator strategy was drafted with the help of many interested organisations and is out to consultation. It refreshes our commitment to safeguarding bees and building on our long-established policies to support pollinators, including habitat and species conservation.”

Victoria Harvey, of South Beds Friends of the Earth, said: “ It is great news that the government is being supportive. Bees pollinate 75% of our food and have declined by half in the last 20 years, with habitat loss a major cause alongside pesticides. Honey bees are only one species of 250 species of bee. Bumble bees are crucial for pollinating tomatoes and solitary bees play a big role in pollinating apples and many other crops!

“As part of Keep the Buzz in Leighton Buzzard, We are working on about ten areas in |Leighton Buzzard including a community orchard in Astral Park and a community garden by the war memorial on Mentmore Road!

“Leighton Linslade Town council has been very supportive and we have had great help from volunteer staff from Waitrose and Spencer Rail(who are building the lifts at the station). Please we need more volunteers, if you can spare the odd hour or so go to www.southbedsfoe.co.uk to find out our dates for creating habitats for bees.”

> Bees pollinate 75% of our food. Tomatoes need Bumble Bees to pollinate so without bees there would be no tomato ketchup. A major reason why bees have halved in numbers in the last 20 years is loss of habitat.

We have lost 97% of our flowery meadows since World War Two. So South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth is doing a programme of creating habitats for bees around the town through both planting new plants and letting the grass grown long.

1. Planting wildflowers at Adams Bottom with Waitrose Volunteers and Heathwood School

2. The war memorial on Mentmore Road with local residents and help from Spencer Rail ( who are building the lifts at the station) we are planting a community garden with flowers and vegetables.

3. In Mentmore Gardens on the bank near the Canal, we have planted an area of wildflowers

4. Mill road, by the children’s play area we have planted an area of wildflowers with local residents and Spencer Rail

5. The wildlife area by platform one at the railway station, where we have created the perfect mixed habitat for bees and butterflies, with planting lots of wildflowers, long grass for butterflies and bees to hibernate in and for butterflies to feed on, nettles for butterflies to lay their eggs on, wood piles, to create nesting places for solitary bees.

6. Along the River Ouzel opposite Leighton Middle school, wildflowers and shrubs, and on the same side as the Fly past monument by Bridge street, we have planted primroses, and wild roses and elder.

7. Along the banks of the Clipstone Brook, both sides in Parsons Close, , this was one of only 9 nominations in the whole of the Anglia region for biodiversity in the Anglia in Bloom awards.

8. A community Orchard in Astral Park, and we mange the grass the for flowers by cutting it with a scythe in the autumn and raking it up.

9. Two small areas near to Carina Drive and Clipstone Brook, where we will be doing more planting and letting the grass grow long.,

10. An area on the steep bank beside Soulbury Road beside St Marys way and a small area beside Cotswold drive on Derwent Road where there was a bee orchid last year, will be allowed to grow long.

11. We are hoping to create a community garden in the green space between Regent Street and Miles Avenue.