The posters, which have been designed pro-bono by creative team LIDA, part of global advertising agency M&C Saatchi, feature dying bees on a drip, on a hospital bed in traction, and being carried on a stretcher, and will appear at over 100 locations across the capital for a month from 17 June. Accompanying animations - featuring bees getting into London-based scrapes - aim to go viral on the internet. The posters and films mark a new stage in the Capital Bee campaign, which has been promoting community-run beekeeping in London and campaigning for a bee-friendly city since its launch in 2010. The campaign now has seven training sites, offering 75 new beekeepers one year’s training from some of the city’s most experienced beekeepers. These communities, spread across London schools, colleges, housing estates, businesses, and allotments, will then receive their own hive and bees in 2012.
“I hope we can build a strong community spirit with everyone taking part caring for the hives,” says Sara, one of the winners in the community beekeeping competition. Sara is about to start her 20-week beekeeping course at Camley Street Nature Park on the banks of the Regent’s Canal. She lives in the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in Camden, and wants to put hives on the roofs of the estate.
But you don’t have to be a competition winner or even be a beekeeper to help bees, explains Mikey Tomkins of the Capital Bee campaign. “Londoners can support their bees locally by growing plants that bees like, and finding alternatives to garden pesticides. Solitary bees and bumble bees also need a suitable habitat in gardens, in much the same way as we put up bird boxes. A honey bee will fly up to three miles looking for flowers, and with existing beekeepers tending over 2,500 hives in London, you are never far from a bee.”
Londoners who want to do their bit are being encouraged to sign a pledge on the Capital Bee web site: it could be something as simple as planting bee-friendly flowers in a window box, or allowing a few wild plants (weeds to some) to flourish. They can also help rural bees too, says Mikey, by buying organic produce - organic farmland creates a healthy environment for honey bees, improving their health and the quality of food they pollinate - and buying local honey to help support the beekeepers that tend to the city’s bees (see our Shopping Basket feature on p5 for some London honey suggestions).
Capital Bee is part of the Capital Growth campaign to create more food-growing spaces in London, so it’s not surprising that one of the best ways to help bees is to grow more food. Plants from the bean and pea family need pollination, as well as certain fruiting trees, bushes and many herbs. Leaving some plants to go to seed, which lets them flower, can also benefit bees.
To get involved visit the Capital Bee website at www.capitalgrowth.org/bees and start growing, buying, campaigning or even beekeeping for London’s bees.
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