The Channel Islands Co-operative Society is this week launching Plan Bee, an initiative developed to help, support and expand the Channel Islands’ bee population.
Primary schools across Jersey and Guernsey will this week be receiving information leaflets and packets of wildflower seeds which, when planted, will help to feed the bee populations of both islands.
Not only do bees produce honey and beeswax, it is estimated that bees pollinate a third of the food we eat (globally), so without them there are many foods that wouldn’t be available. Pollination carried out by bees is vital for many trees and plants, including those which produce fruits and vegetables. Without bees we would not have apples, blackberries, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, onions and chocolate (cocoa) to name a few. In Jersey today it is even more important to help and support a healthy honey bee population so that the island’s arable crops and garden soft fruits are pollinated.
In 2009 Jersey’s bees were struck down with a destructive disease, American Foulbrood, causing the loss of around one third of the island’s bee population. Following an inspection, which took place at the end of April, it has been confirmed by the Jersey Bee Keeper’s Association that the disease is still present in the island, making it more important than ever to nurture and develop a healthy honey bee population.
Bob Tompkins of the Jersey Bee Keepers Association, said that they are already two years into the development of a breeding programme and the support and awareness created by Plan Bee will help their efforts enormously. ‘After losing such a significant portion of our colonies of bees to American Foulbrood, we have been focusing on raising strong, healthy stock. This however takes time and training. If islanders can support us by following a few simple steps, such as planting wildflowers, this process can be greatly enhanced. If Plan Bee can help us raise the awareness of these key steps and islanders help us, we can achieve our aims much more quickly.’
Mr Tompkins will be joining Channel Islands Co-operative representatives at an assembly at Jersey College for Girls Preparatory School on Monday 14th May to talk to them about what they, their classmates and their families can do to help. Mr Tompkins will then join the girls in their outdoor woodland classroom to plant the wildflower seeds.
Ways to help the bee population:
• Plant wildflowers as these provide a good range of pollen and nectar. Bees need a healthy and varied diet. These can be scattered in a small area of the garden.
• Select plants which carry the bee friendly symbol – The Royal Horticultural Society in conjunction with commercial plant growers have drawn up a list of plants that attract pollinating insects and these plants can be identified at garden centres by the Bee Logo found on the plant label which also says “Perfect for Pollinators” as these are particularly nutritious for bees. Most local garden centres stock these.
• Encourage the planting of trees – horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and the maple family including sycamore will all provide large amounts of nectar. Oak trees are great producers of pollen.
Mark Cox, Chief Operating Officer from The Channel Islands Co-operative said ‘We are delighted to be launching our local Plan Bee initiative. We are sending out 500 packets of seeds to the island’s primary schools as part of our campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the local bee population and to inspire islanders to get involved and do their bit to help.’
Plan Bee is part of national campaign, which the Co-op in the UK established in 2009, with the aim of addressing the decline in pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths.