Tonbridge ‘Bee walk’ helps locals to be aware of insect’s plight

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THE Tonbridge & Malling branch of Friends of the Earth held a ‘bee walk’ through Tonbridge this month to draw attention to the plight of the insect.

The popular event was part of the campaign group’s National Bee Campaign to show the positive action that can be taken to protect and improve their environment.

It coincides with the Great British Bee Count, which runs until June 30. Sponsored by Ecotalk and supported by conservation trust Buglife, the count enables the public to find out more about the bees that visit our gardens, parks and countryside, and what can be done to help them.

Using a free and easy-to-use app, thousands of verified sightings will be submitted to the government’s Pollinator Monitoring Scheme, which will provide the first comprehensive health check for Britain’s wild bees and other pollinators.

The walk took place in town rather than the countryside to show that bees can thrive wherever a habitat is made available for them.

Bees play a vital part in nature and in our economy – it would cost UK farmers £1.8billion a year to pollinate their crops without them.

Anthony Bales, coordinator of the local group, told walkers that the UK has lost 97 per cent of its wildflower meadows since 1945.

He told the Times: ‘The positive impact of campaigning by Friends of the Earth and other organisations was made evident in April this year when the European Union, including the UK, voted to put a permanent ban on the outdoor use of three bee-harming pesticides.

‘Such actions as growing bee-friendly flowers make a beneficial difference to bees and other pollinators, from planting in a window box to creating new wildflower meadows.’

The June 10 walk, which was led by local naturalist Dr Ian Beavis, visited the Angel Community Garden in Sainsbury’s car park, which was created by Friends of the Earth as ‘a perfect example of how small spaces in an urban area can be transformed to support bees’, said Mr Bales.

The itinerary also took in the graveyard of St Peter & St Paul’s Church and the roadside reserve between the London and Shipbourne Roads, created by Kent Wildlife Trust and Kent County Council, ‘another wonderful example of renewal of a forgotten pocket of urban space’.

Friends of the Earth are currently petitioning the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, calling for a clear commitment to reduce the use of pesticides in the forthcoming Agriculture Bill.

To download the Great British Bee Count app, go to

PICTURE: URBAN HAVEN: The walk takes in the roadside reserve in north Tonbridge

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