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Creating a Buzz! – helping faith groups  support and protect our bees.

CEA have recently worked for Oxford Friends of the Earth on the ‘Creating a Buzz!’ toolkit for faith groups. While the threats facing bees and other pollinators are widely recognised but there is still a lot of practical work to be done to protect them, especially wild bees, and to create a better range of habitats and food sources.

Oxford Friends of the Earth has been successfully working on the Bee Cause campaign for four years. Activities have included Bee Walks, planting a ‘Bee World’ in an East Oxford meadow and organising the Oxford Bee Summit in 2014.  This year there’s Oxford Bee Fest in partnership with the Oxford Museum for Natural History on the 7th May www.oxfoe.co.uk). Oxford FoE is always looking for creative ways to extend this work. Both CEA Directors are active in the group.

In 2015, Jan McHarry co-ordinated a spin-off project, ‘Creating a Buzz!’ targeted at faith-based organisations. This small project worked with local faith groups to increase awareness about the potential for pollinator-friendly planting around places of worship and other faith-based buildings. From this we have developed the ‘Creating a Buzz!’ toolkit – a short guide for any faith group.

Faith groups were the focus for this work as they can be significant land-owners or managers of the space around their buildings. Historically many of these sites, particularly churchyards, have not been over-managed, offering habitats that are valuable for both wildlife and people – a quiet breathing space from over-development and concrete. And across the faiths, bees feature in many sacred teachings so taking action to protect them can be a creative expression of faith values and ethical responsibility.

The toolkit was developed with and for faith groups. But much of the information in it is useful to many audiences, especially voluntary and community groups, who may want to take action to protect bees and other pollinators. It helps answer many questions about how to attract bees to informal green spaces, including churchyards and gardens. It is not a technical guide.

As Jan says: “We’ve found that whilst people are keen to know what to do to provide food and shelter for pollinators, they often don’t know where to go to find the information they need. The toolkit provides guidance and signposting to other sources of help, including organisations providing pollinator-friendly plant lists. We hope it will encourage people to celebrate these fascinating insects this year. We should not forget that pollinators are vital for much of our food production and biodiversity. Even planting up a small space or a few containers of flowers or herbs can make a difference.”

You can download the toolkit here now. It is a 28 page resource with short sections including:  Faiths and Bees; Why bees and other pollinators matter; Planning your planting and selecting plants; Working on site; Maintenance and monitoring; publicity and communication and undertaking other activities There is a comprehensive Information and Resources section, signposting a range of suppliers and organisations that are useful sources of further help and information.

The Oxford Friends of the Earth press release can be found here .

As a family, they can sing, dance, make honey, pollinate flowers, sometimes sting, and be dressed in extraordinary colours and designs….how can you not be fascinated by them” Kurt Jackson 2016 (quote from the exhibition ‘Bees (and the odd wasp) in my bonnet’  at the Museum of Natural History, Parks Road Oxford) which opened 18 March 2016.

 

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