reflections on the Bee Tea

Our guest post today is by our group co-ordinator, Andrew Durling, and contains his personal reflections upon our recent Bee Tea in aid of the Bee Cause campaign:

The recent Bee Tea that Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth held at Eastbourne Town Hall on November 22nd was a memorable occasion for many reasons, but perhaps the most memorable reason for me was the revelation sprung upon everybody by Gareth Williams, the local council officer responsible for implementing the Bee Cause  strategy in Eastbourne’s parks and gardens. He surprised everybody, including myself with his update on the progress made in creating new bee habitats in Eastbourne’s public spaces. The total of new Bee Worlds in Eastbourne is now over 4o in the space of less than a year and a half! That incredible pace of planting is testament to the hard work of both the council staff and the local community groups that have been working with the council to facilitate this planting effort. It was a sight to behold to see the local MP Stephen Lloyd’s reaction when he heard this statistic His jaw dropped, and he was truly awestruck by this amount of progress and kept emphasising to the audience how impressive this was.

It also made me very happy as I know that this level of planting probably would not have happened had Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth not been so active in helping to persuade Eastbourne Borough Council to adopt the Bee Cause in a formal council motion. I was present the day the motion was passed, and can confirm that the it was passed unanimously and enthusiastically. It’s not often one can say that a council is unanimous in its support of a measure so important in its implications for the local environment! But then the council, and indeed the majority of the British public recognise that bees are an integral part of not only the nature we love, but also an iconic part of the whole cultural and social fabric that we weave with our love of nature, from the long history of beekeeping through to the various traditions of flower gardening. And the simple knowledge that bees are declining in both health and numbers has galvanised action on all levels,a n dis pushing even the government to start planning to do much more for bees, and by association the biodiversity that supports bees, than they have ever dared to do before. And what was even more inspiring was hearing from Gareth that he has not finished yet: that the council will be planting even more bee-friendly schemes over the coming year, this time with the strategy of linking up those schemes as much as possible to create wildflower/wildlife corridors throughout Eastbourne.

The Bee Cause has therefore become a trigger for a deep “greening” of Eastbourne that has presumably never been attempted before! One speaker at the Bee Tea, Tim Dowding from the Co-operative Society, even talked about a Great Wall of Lavender stretching right around Eastbourne! Lavender, now scientifically proven by the Apiculture Unit of the University of Sussex, to be one of the most valuable sources of forage for many species of bees, is both extremely attractive visually and in terms of smell, and very easy to plant out, as well as having a host of practical uses which our cultural history and folklore makes us aware of. What a tourist attraction that would be: Eastbourne’s very own Lavender Line!

But perhaps the greatest achievement of the Bee Cause for me has been deeply personal; the campaign brought me back into a much closer connection with nature as I built up an understanding, through bees, how interdependent the various plants and wildife are, and how dependent we all are upon the maintenance of that dynamic interdependence. The food we eat and the flowers we love depend upon bees, while bees depend upon a rich biodiversity to flourish, and therefore bees depend ultimately upon us humans to maintain and protect that biodiversity for the benefit and well being of both bees and humans. Now when I  see bees visiting flowers, I see into the heart of nature’s richness and realise, in that moment of intimacy with nature, where my own well-being ultimately comes from. And that makes me smile…

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One thought on “reflections on the Bee Tea

  1. Hi, I attended the Bee Tea and thought it was very informative, well organised and have felt inspired to respond in a practicle way. I am submitting plans to the Devonshire West Ward who have been awarded Lottory money and will be running a 10 year program over the next 10 years. My proposal includes space called ‘Bee Friendly’ to contain fruit trees and flowers. Please could somebody call me for your expert input prior to my submision.

    This is a project that can empower those who want to be practically involved, improve the appearance and give the Bees a public home in Devonshire West Ward.

    Thank you for an excellent event and I hope you will take the event into schools and local groups

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