We’re offering GP practices in Oxfordshire the chance to create havens for bumblebees as part of the Bee Healthy project. This new pilot scheme, run by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment, in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Wild Oxfordshire, will provide funds and support to help two health centres plant bee-friendly borders in their grounds.

The idea builds on the success of an existing project at Chipping Norton Health Centre, where herbaceous beds now teem with bees in summer. Craig Blackwell, an ecologist and Chipping Norton resident who led the project, says all eight bumblebee species commonly found in the county now visit the site. The border contains 12 species of plants specially chosen to provide nectar and pollen across the seasons.

“It starts in March when the queen bees emerge, and goes through to October. As one flower begins to fade another comes in,” explains Craig. Summer flowering herbs include marjoram, hyssop and catmint.

Volunteers from Oxfordshire’s Green Gym helped prepare and plant the beds and now return monthly to weed them. Patients coming and going stop to admire the bees, and some have been inspired to create similar oases in their own gardens. Bumblebee populations have suffered long-term decline as a result of modern farming methods, but gardens in towns and cities can help to sustain their numbers.

We would love to hear from Oxfordshire surgeries interested in developing bee-healthy borders, to benefit pollinators and provide a pleasant environment for patients and staff.

To learn more, contact info@nhsforest.org

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