There are at least 275 species of wild bee in the UK and of these, over 80% have been found in Surrey. The county is one of the richest in the country for bees, and, as a result, its gardens and other green spaces benefit hugely from their pollinating services.  However, over the past few years, there has been a significant decline in the numbers of many species, and local conservation organisations would like to encourage more people to establish and protect natural habitats in order to ensure bees are able to thrive in the region. Surrey’s Wildlife Trust, local councils and other nature conservation organisations have all called for more planting to welcome bees and other wildlife, and are promoting initiatives to encourage residents to create bee-friendly gardens.

Encouraging Hard-Working Pollinators

Of the wild bee species found in Surrey, the majority are solitary bees, although social bees that live together in colonies are probably more familiar. Honey bees live in large hives and can be managed for their honey and other products such as wax for candles. As a prolific pollinator, however, the bumble bee is one of the most important bee species for humans. Unfortunately, in the last decade alone, one third of the British bee population has been lost, largely due to loss of habitat.  In response to dwindling bee numbers, the Surrey Wildlife Trust is working with the Royal Horticultural Society on a joint campaign called Bee Creative in the Garden which aims to help local residents to create bee-friendly gardens by planting more flowers and creating natural habitats in which bees can nest.

Increasing Biodiversity with Natural Habitats

In May, a popular event in Woking helped to raise awareness about caring for wildlife through projects to enhance local biodiversity and natural habitats.  Visitors to ‘Wild in Woking’ were able to gather information about how to protect local wildlife, and partake in nature trails and other fun activities provided by a range of  environmental organisations including Woking Environment Action and the council’s Green Infrastructure team. The Surrey Wildlife Trust created a pop-up garden, including a pond, bug hotel and plenty of flowers to attract bees and other pollinators.

Helping House Buyers to Create Havens for Bees

Several housing developers in the region are also encouraging residents of new-builds to create havens for bees in their gardens by supplying them with seeds for flowering plants .  After the success of a pilot scheme in neighbouring Hampshire, one house builder is continuing a project with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to provide more flower-rich habitats across the whole Thames Valley region. The project’s aim is to improve biodiversity in the area as well as raise awareness of the Trust’s important work.

Wild bees are vital to the environment and yet their numbers are sadly in decline. In Surrey, a range of initiatives have been introduced with the aim of encouraging local residents to protect the local wildlife and attract more bees to their gardens.