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Help stop the decline of bees with only a single window box

Nick Wray

Press release issued: 1 September 2014

Imagine a world without cappuccinos, chocolate, apples, strawberries or even Somerset cider. These products are all dependent on insect pollination, yet in recent years there has been a dramatic decline in bee and pollinator populations. A festival this weekend aims to show how people can make a difference with only a single window box.

The Bee and Pollination Festival will take place at the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden at The Holmes, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September 2014 from 10 am to 5 pm. 

This year’s theme focuses on the importance of pollination for growing fruit and vegetables and a transient fruit orchard will be at the festival with experts on hand to answer fruit growing techniques.

The University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences will also showcase its Urban Pollinators project, which is examining how pollinating insects are affected by urbanization.

Nick Wray, Curator at the Botanic Garden said: “Researchers at the University of Reading have calculated that the total value of crops pollinated by insects in the UK was an estimated £510 million per year, yet the estimated annual cost of replacing pollination services provided free by insects with hand pollination would be in the region of £1.8 billion per year.

“This event will highlight the important role that bees have in pollinating plants and the numerous ways in which we can help them to carry out this vital role.”

The festival will also host the Bristol Branch of the Avon Beekeepers Association annual Bristol Honey Show and Festival.  A live hive will give visitors an insight into the workings of the honey bee along with talks and displays on the importance and pleasure of keeping bees. While honey is a major feature, exhibitors will also explain the significance of beeswax and other bee products.

With the increase in people growing their own food and community urban food projects, the allotments team at Bristol City Council and the Avon Organic Group will show visitors how garden displays can be improved.

Tours will be offered throughout the weekend that will give people the chance to see and learn something new about the garden, which will be ablaze with September colour, including many autumn flowering salvias, anemones, grasses, toad lilies and hardy bromeliads.

Free demonstrations and talks will take place throughout the festival, which will range from beekeeping techniques and the workings of a live hive, to research projects about urban pollinators, how to build insect hotels and weave enchanting willow sculptures.

On the Sunday [7 September], Mike Feingold of Royate Hill Community Orchard and a tutor on the Bristol Permaculture Design Course, will be demonstrating apple pressing and mashing and visitors are invited to bring their own apples to make their own juice.

The RSPB will showcase their successful Dungeness project that involved reintroducing a bee which was declared extinct in the UK in 2000. The short-haired bumblebee, brought over from Sweden, has now nested and has produced its first offspring.

The festival will not just focus on UK issues. In line with the Botanic Garden’s mission objectives, to educate, communicate and conserve, a display by Bees for Development (BfD) will demonstrate how it undertakes practical projects overseas to develop people’s knowledge of how to create reliable income from bees and beekeeping. A couple of bee colonies can generate income that allows a family to buy essential medicine or send a child to school.

Exhibitors at the event include Butcombe Brewery and Mad Apple Cider, who will be providing beer tastings and Riverford Organic Farms will explain their organic growing story. Orchid enthusiasts, including Writhlington School Orchid Project and Kelvin Bush orchids, will show the relationship between pollinators and flowers in a display of orchids. 

Bristol Naturalists will give advice on identifying bees and Friends of Downs and Avon Gorge will explain how they protect and enhance the area for the benefit of wildlife.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust will show, whatever the budget, how people can make their gardens more bee-friendly.  A number of nurseries will also be selling insect-friendly plants for all types of gardens, such as hardy exotics seen in the Botanic Garden or the Jurassic giants in the garden’s Evolutionary Dell.

Art displays include metalwork sculptor, Willa Ashworth, who will be bringing unusual bird feeders, fire pits and wind chime flowers; Botanic Garden art tutor, Jenny Brooks and  Forever Knowledge bee products.     

The Bee and Pollination Festival at the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden, The Holmes, Stoke Park Road, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JG, will take place Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 September from 10 am to 5 pm.  Light refreshments will be available.

Entry to the festival is £3.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under-16.

For further information tel 0117 331 4906 or email

Further information

Last year  the University of Bristol's Urban Pollinators Project with partners at Bristol City Council’sMeadow Bristol project won the Mayor’s Bristol Genius Award at the city’s 2013 Festival of Ideas awards evening for their work on urban flower meadows in Bristol.

This year the Urban Pollinators Project is creating 15 large meadows in parks and schools across the city in association with Meadow Bristol who are providing many of the meadow sites. 

About the Botanic Garden

September: Open Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm [except for events].  Teas on the terrace will be available every Sunday.
October: Open Monday to Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm.  Closed Saturday.
November and December: Open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm or dusk if earlier.
Closed on Saturday and Sunday except for advertised winter tours.

The Welcome Lodge will be closed but informational leaflets will be available and a donation from non-Friends is requested.

Admission is £3.50 adults; free to University staff and retired staff, Friends of the Botanic Garden, students and children under 16.

Dogs (except registered disability assistance dogs) are not permitted in the Botanic Garden.

The garden is largely accessible for wheelchairs and mobility scooters with a designated path leading around the garden and glasshouses. Disabled toilet facilities are available on site.

The garden also offers private day, evening and weekend guided tours for groups of ten upwards for gardening or any other leisure clubs. In addition there is a number of pre-bookable Evening Summer Tours.  Please contact the garden for further information.  There is an additional charge for all tours.

Directions to The Holmes

From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, The Holmes is 150 m on the right.

Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden.  For more information go to the Friends of the Garden or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

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