Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK

Saving Marlborough’s bees

Sunflower Bees

Transition Marlborough has joined an ambitious national project to save bees.

The group created Bee Roadzz in 2018 with partners including the farmers of Marlborough Downs Space for Nature. And now Bee Roadzz is joining B-Lines, a project by national charity Buglife.

B-lines is a network of joined habitats so pollinating insects, such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies, can move freely around the British countryside.

Marlborough is in a crucial position at a crossroads in the Swindon to Salisbury and Hungerford to Chippenham B-lines insect network.

“Marlborough and our neighbouring villages, towns, farmers and landowners can make a big contribution to the free movement and survival of essential insects such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies,” said Milly Carmichael, chair of Transition Marlborough.

It has been predicted that as much as 70 percent of insect species could go extinct if they are stuck within ever decreasing fragments of countryside.

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Buzzing down the Bee Roadzz

free plants for bees

Transition Marlborough wanted to help save the bees so they started joining up landscapes to connect pollinators and people.

This is the story of a small, local project to help bees. They are in trouble, along with all flying insects, and we can all do something to help.

There are 25 native species of bumblebee, over 250 species of solitary bee and one species of honeybee in the UK. Many are in decline, but even DEFRA’s 2014 10 year National Pollinator Strategy highlights that we know very little about many of them, so measuring baselines and progress is a real challenge. Last year German research hit the headlines showing a 75% drop in flying insect biomass over just 27 years across 63 nature protection areas. What a wake-up call.

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Introduction to Permaculture Course 2020

creatively use and respond to change. butterfly icon.

This year we celebrate 9 years of running our well received introduction to permaculture course. It’s based in systems thinking and is all about learning from the myriad ways that nature – with her 4 bilion years of research and development – can teach us a thing or two about how to live well on this planet and with each other.

We usually host a series of about a dozen sessions on Saturday mornings between March and October, covering everything from the founding ethics and design principles to composting and low energy living, forest gardening to social permaculture and much more.

Each session is hosted in the houses, gardens and even a boat of Transition Marlborough members and friends. One of the key principles in permaculture design is to…

and we’ve had to do exactly that this year. The lockdown and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic has meant we’ve had to get creative with how we deliver the course. We may just have surprised ourselves by what we have made possible!

We’ve made films, adapted to Zoom meetings, prepared slides and shared screens. We’ve sent out follow-up materials and asked our participants to go out to explore their own gardens and local spaces rather than sharing that experience all together, as we would normally do.

It’s been a steep learning curve and we’re definitely still on it, but the course is happening and we have a wonderfully diverse group of enthusiastic and interesting participants who are eager to try out what they are learning in their very varied home gardens and community spaces.

In this process we are creating materials and resources that we can fashion into an online course that can benefit even more people, could run over the autumn and winter months and be taken at one’s own pace. While it won’t have all the live discussion and feedback of the original, we think it will offer a great core introduction to the ethics, design principles, design tools and practical applications of permaculture.

Another core design principle of permaculture is to….

and to take a broad view of what we mean by ‘yield’ too. This moment of change and challenge has actually given us the chance to widen our reach, learn new skills, boost our confidence and find different ways to work together despite the restrictions. So many yields from what could have been a disaster for the course this year!

We are living in unprecedented times and we need some new tools and ways of thinking to navigate the future and build a world that doesn’t just go back to ‘normal’ when this pandemic passes on. ‘Normal’ wasn’t working so well for most life on earth and we have a precious chance now to shift our focus and do things differently.

Permaculture has a lot to offer that new picture and we welcome the chance this is giving us to share our experience with an even wider group of people now.

If you are interested in learning more about permaculture, please get in touch with us at and have a look at the Permaculture Association website

Next Transition Marlborough Hub Meeting

Thursday June 11th at 7.30pm

All welcome to our next hub meeting on Thursday June 11th at 7.30pm

We usually hold our monthly meetings in the friendly setting of the Green Dragon pub on Marlborough High Street but the current situation with Covid-19 takes us online for now.

If you’d like to join us and find out more about Transition Marlborough, please send a message to and we will send you an invitation to the Zoom meeting.

Next Permaculture Meeting – Saturday 3rd August on Health.

Details from