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.

“Three quarters of our homegrown and imported fruit and vegetables are insect pollinated. Without them, we’d be stuck with beige, bland food with limited nutrients,” said Milly. “But this isn’t just about us. There are over 250 species of wild bees in the UK and countless species of other pollinators, most of them we know very little about. We want to help people know more about them, support some ‘citizen science’ to help monitor them and encourage everyone to join in the effort to join up the landscape for them.”

“B-Lines provide an exciting opportunity for everyone to support our struggling insect pollinators,” explained Hayley Herridge, Buglife conservation officer. “Bees and other pollinators are disappearing from our countryside and one major contributing factor is the lack of wildflower-rich habitats. Three million hectares, 97 percent, of the UK’s wildflower-rich grasslands have been lost since the 1930s.  Creating better connected, pollinator habitat along B-Lines will help wildlife move across our countryside, saving threatened species and making sure that there are plenty of pollinators out there to help us grow crops and pollinate wildflowers.”

Bee Roadzz and Wiltshire B-lines needs more participants of all sizes to connect and restore wildflower-rich grasslands, from private and community gardens, allotments and parish councils, to farmers and large estate owners and corridors such as canals.

Buglife has worked with Wiltshire and Swindon councils, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, MOD and other partners to map out the B-Lines network. 

Waterfront garden
Val Compton works on the Waterfront Garden

Marlborough and Pewsey area groups and businesses already contributing to Transition Marlborough’s Bee Roadzz include Marlborough in Bloom, St Marys Primary School, ARK, Pewsey Primary School, My Apple Juice, Marlborough Town Council, Marlborough Area Board, Marlborough Waterfront Garden, Mildenhall Gardening Club and Village Hall Committee, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Marlborough Allotment Association and Bishops Cannings Parish Council.

Space for Nature is a collaboration of local farmers with other conservation and wildlife groups to create a wildlife-friendly landscape across the Marlborough Downs.

“The farmers of the Marlborough Downs are delighted that the work they started with the Space for Nature project and extended to include a whole range of local people during the Bee Roadzz campaign will continue through these new nationally important B-Lines.  We have planted and managed special plots for bees, butterflies and other bugs for many years now, and initiated some really good community projects, such as spring bulb planting and Trees for Bees, since getting involved with Bee Roadzz.  It’s very rewarding to know that this effort is contributing towards the creation of a resilient network of pollinator corridors, and to be part of a national drive to support this incredibly important group of insects,” said Dr Jemma Batten, Space for Nature project manager.

See the main Bee Roadzz page for advice and how to get involved.