Pollinator Awareness Week

(c) Jon Hawkins Surrey Hill Photography

Pollinator Awareness Week took place this year between 13th – 19th July, and every year this is an opportunity to raise awareness of pollinator needs and encourage everyone to take action to support pollinators.

Pollinator Awareness Events

Inaugural Champion of Champions Award ceremony

Lord Gardiner hosted Defra’s first annual Champion of Champions Awards Ceremony on Friday 17 July. The event celebrated the efforts of a wide range of organisations, groups and individuals who are working hard to provide high quality food, habitats and nesting sites for pollinators. Some of the members of Defra’s Pollinator Advisory Steering Group were also in attendance, including the Bee Farmer’s Association, RHS, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Waitrose. Lord Gardiner thanked all nominees and stakeholders for their efforts to support pollinators, all of which are helping to take forward the vital actions contained in the National Pollinator Strategy. Some of the nominees sent in photos and videos of their efforts, which we turned into a video to show at the event! 

As the name of the event suggests, everyone who was nominated is a champion, but the overall winner of the Champion of Champions award was Boston West Academy, an eco-primary school in Lincoln. Headteacher, Mike Schofield, was at the event to accept the award on behalf of pupils, who joined the event via Skype. Mike said:

“I think it’s wonderful for Defra to give what we are doing their backing and to be giving us a platform to encourage others to follow our lead.”

The pupils demonstrated incredible dedication to supporting pollinators and have been creative in doing so. The children had the idea to create a wildflower garden in the theme of air, fire, water and earth. Gardens were planted with pollinator friendly plants to encourage pollinators through the seasons. The children built a nectar bar for pollinators to drink, and created their own bee hotels. The local Bee Society was invited to give talks to the children and teach them more about pollination. The school held an open afternoon, inviting members of the local community to see their hard work and raise awareness of pollinator friendly planting. Since planting the meadows they have seen a huge increase in the number and variety of bees. You can see some of their wonderful efforts here.

Lord Gardiner, reflecting on the event, said:

“It was wonderful to meet a range of groups and individuals who are doing their best to provide habitats for pollinators and raise awareness of the simple things that we can all do to support them.”

There were 25 nominees for this award, drawn from those shortlisted for Conservation Grade’s Fair to Nature Farmer of the Year Award, CIRIA’s BIG Biodiversity Challenge pollinator category, and the Green Flag ‘Bees’ Needs’ Award. The nominees were:

Graham Birch
Charlie Porter
Andrew Elms
Ian Crabtree
Boston West Academy
Finborough School
Forest Park Primary
Compton Church of England Primary
Redland Green School
Heslington Campus, University of York
Marks and Spencer – Plan Bee Stockley Park project
Sir Robert McAlpine – Air W1 Project
VINCI facilities – Welsh Government contract
Morgan Sindall – Pollinator Corridor project, A1 Leeming to Barton
Trees for Cities – community orchard and wildflower meadow, Shadwell
The Pirbright Institute – populating and pollinating Pirbright’s pastures project
King George V Playing Fields, Ashton-under-Lyne
Meadow Park
St Lukes Church Grounds, Crosby
New Ferry Butterfly Park
Hatherley Park – Cheltenham Borough Council
The Mere at Ellesmere – Shropshire Council
Brockwell Park – Lambeth Council
Alkincoats Park – Pendle Borough Council
Clandon Wood Surrey Hill Natural Burial Reserve

Milan Expo

The UK are participating at the World Expo 2015 in Milan from 1st May to 31st October where Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life is the core theme. The Expo aims to highlight one of the most pressing challenges of our time – how to feed and sustain an expected rise in the world’s population to 9 billion by 2050. The UK Pavilion is a hive design and showcased the crucial role of pollination in the global ecosystem, our food supply and it highlights the global need to protect pollinators. Click here for more information on the Milan expo

Defra ran two pollinator focused events at the UK Pavilion in July, when there will was a special focus on biodiversity and conservation at the Expo.

On 12th July, the artist and the academic behind the incredible UK pavilion design, Wolfgang Buttress and Dr Martin Bencsik, hosted an exciting event for the general public which explored the hive design and the science behind it. Dr Martin Bencsik explained his work on bee hive activity and accelerometers in an interactive way, using live music to illustrate the vibrations caused by bees as they communicate with one another. 

On 13th July, Defra hosted an event for international experts, policy makers, representatives from international bodies, and representatives from local, national and regional pollinator initiatives at the UK pavilion. This event featured speakers including Professor Simon Potts and Dr Lynn Dicks, both experts in the field, and sought to promote the work that the UK is doing to support pollinators, and engage international contributors to explore best practice in translating evidence into action and opportunities for international collaboration.