Pollinating London Together celebrates World Bee Day at Kew Gardens

Pollinating London Together (PLT) – a movement spearheaded by the Livery Companies of the City of London – celebrated World Bee Day on May 20th, 2021.PLT started in 2020 and aims to make London and other cities a better place for human beings and pollinators.

In the words of John Burton, Chairman of Pollinating London Together:

“The PLT mission, as a membership organisation, is to influence organisations and individuals to positively support pollinators in the management of urban land resources and the built environment in the UK, starting in the City of London.”

On June 26th, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, invited members of the PLT Team for a guided tour of Kew Gardens. The tour was led by the incredibly knowledgeable Dr Hauke Koch, Research Leader in Pollinator Biological Chemistry at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Dr Hauke Koch, Research Leader in Pollinator Biological Chemistry at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with a bee caught during the tour.
Photo credit: Salar Kiramat

With regards to pollinators, one of the most interesting insights provided during the afternoon was that there are over 270 species of bee which have been recorded in Great Britain. The tour group were informed that Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has 107 of these species in their grounds at Kew Gardens.

Sue Green, who is a PLT Board Member and Master Wax Chandler said:

“Many pollinators are in severe decline because we’re not looking after our environment enough to create the gardens and countryside that allows them to forage and that is why the Wax Chandlers are heavily involved in this initiative.”

Sue Green, PLT Board Member and Master Wax Chandler.
Photo Credit: Andrew Cleminson

There is no doubt that pollination is important to all of us and can be hugely beneficial if we know how to make it happen. Fortunately, PLT were able to adopt a scheme owned and managed by the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology as part of their Citizen Science programme. The scheme makes use of a Flower-Insect Timed (FIT) Count app which allows people to keep track of the number of pollinators in their environ.

Within a ten-minute duration, you count all the insects which land within a chosen 50×50 cm patch of specific flowers. The app enables you to enter your findings and then upload your survey to the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) so they can analyse the data. The FIT Count App is crucial to measure the impact of what modifications can do to the lives of pollinators.

As Dr Hauke Koch said of the FIT Count App during a demonstration at Kew Gardens:

“It’s a way of tracking some aspects of how well our pollinators are doing, also having a way of spotting when there are problems or spotting when there are good developments where we can say ‘ok maybe something has happened in that area that was positive, maybe we should find out what that was.’”

Pollinators are essential to our way of life, a viewpoint supported by Anthony Bickmore, PLT Board Member and Master-Elect Wax Chandler:

“Pollinating is about the food we eat. Every third mouthful we eat is based on what pollinators help to deliver, so it is important for the food we eat, as well as for the natural environment.”

Dr Heather Barrett-Mold OBE, PLT Vice Chairman and Master Gardener said:

“Pollinating London Together undertakes audits of planting across all sorts of different green spaces through the City of London, PLT looks at the planting and makes recommendations to the people who are responsible for doing that planting.”

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is just one of many green spaces that needs to maintain their key pollinators. This is because they are essential to the way the ecosystem operates and that filters down into our food chain. This is why raising awareness of this crucial topic and providing better conditions for natural pollinators to thrive in, will benefit us all and their habitats can be enjoyed by everyone.

Centre: John Burton, Chairman of Pollinating London Together delivers a speech at the end of the guided tour of Kew Gardens
Photo credit: Andrew Cleminson

For more information visit: www.pollinatinglondontogether.com

To download the app, visit the Apple or Google Play app stores and search for the FIT Count App.

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