- Year-long partnership with Reddie & Grose Patent law firm with offices in east London, Cambridge and Munich. Involved introducing staff to our 270 bee species, talks on how they can plant for bees at home and making bee hotels for Red mason bees to check into. We also highlighted a bee of the month for their social media feeds.
- Created a new bee garden on the 12th floor of Bartholomew Close in the City (pictured middle). We installed 4 wooden planters each around 2m x 2m and 30mm deep, fitted with a drip irrigation system, and filled one with spring flowering plants, another with mid summer plants, a third with later summer plants and the final one we sprinkled with seed bombs to create a wildflower meadow. It has thrived once we ensured the outdoor tap wasn’t switched off every Monday morning!
- Gave a bee talk to architects at Farringdon Design Week on the subject of ‘How architects and designer can save urban bees and pollinators’. It was hosted by KN International, a cool office furniture design company. And they gave me the t-shirt!
- 4.Regent’s Park bee safaris in May, June, and August (July walk cancelled due to high winds). Advertised by Regent’s Park as a free activity, huge numbers of people signed up but usually less than 20 turned up on the day, expect for August when we had more than a full house (all pictured in the allotment, left). I was assisted by May Webber, community engagement officer, and than Nick Tew, biodiversity research officer, who helped with nets and glass tubes.
- 5 Three-year contract with PWC to improve biodiversity at UK offices and engage staff in sustainability via bee-related activities, like bee safaris on the terraces at their Embankment office (middle photo) where I’d worked with gardener, Mat Bell, to make them more bee-friendly throughout the year .
- 6 Found tiny Furrow bees and Yellow-face bees on 3 of my City rooftop bee gardens during surveys for Pollinating London Together, a charity set up to improve biodiversity in the Square Mile. I offered my roofs at Bread Street (9 floors) and Bartholomew Close (12 floors) and at Weil law firm (8 floors) for pollinator surveys this summer. Thanks to pollinator ecologist, Konstantinos Tsiolis (pictured right on Bread Street with a tiny Green furrow bee), who was equipped with nets, glass tubes, and eye glasses, he recorded tiny bees that I couldn’t see with the naked eye. It was so exciting to record them so high up. And it just shows that when you plant a diversity of bee-friendly flowers, you get a diversity of wild bees, even in the City. More information here. The results will feed into a PLT report out early next year.
- 7 Produced 3 x bee information boards for the Post Building in central London to inform the public about the wild bees they may see when they visit the roof: Red mason bees (using the bee hotels installed above in the info boards), Leafcutter bees (who may also check into the bee hotels) and Hairy-footed flowers that will visit the wallflowers in early spring. We worked with Q&S Commercial Landscaping company on this project (and others throughout the year). Thanks to Ola Wiebe for design and Penny Metal for photos.
- 8 Installed a small bee garden at the Hilton London Metropole – in 5 hexagonal wooden planters and 2 x rectangular planters for climbers. We planted it up on a terrace in late autumn, so it will be interesting to see how the spring bulbs and wallflowers look come March/April, and which wild bees they are feeding. My guess is Hairy-footed flower bees.
- 9 Bee hotel workshops – Brian designed our very own wooden flat-pack bee hotel. He worked with a local ‘cutter outer’ to get the 5 piece flatpack . It can be easily assembled under instruction with wood glue by people like me who can’t put Ikea furniture together. The idea was to use the bee hotels in corporate workshops. Previously we’d been using plastic water bottles, which we didn’t feel comfortable doing. The hotels have proved a great success with children and adults alike at Weil, Reddie & Grose and KPMG. Looking forward to doing many more in 2024. We’ve also sold a few online.
10. Amazon bee garden finally fed bees (5 floors up, near the Barbican)- after an irrigation system was added in spring, and though it’s tiny, it feeds Common carder bees on knapweed, and Red mason bees are nesting in the bee hotels attached to that pole pictured at the back of the tallest wooden planter. It just shows what difference a regular water source makes to the health of the plants and the variety that can be grown. Even the lavender, rosemary and sedum all did better.
11. Lush rooftop garden (5 floor roof terrace in Soho) went from strength to strength. Such a pleasure to see it attracting Wool carder bees, pictured in the middle, on the clump of Stachy byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) I’d planted for them, and Small scissor bees (pictured above right) on the Campanula, as well as Common carder bee, Buff-tailed bumblebees, Furrow bees and nests and food for Red mason bees. In June I gave my annual talk for staff on the rooftop- and the bees arrived right on cue!
12. Bees to See in 2024 calendar is even more beautiful than this year’s. Stunning close up photos taken and selected by Penny Metal. Moreover, we’ve taken on board people’s feedback and have improved the calendar so it now includes:
- measurements to aid identification
- photos of some of the most common hoverflies and wasps that mimic bees to help people tell them apart
Buy a copy here.
Hopes for 2024
- To work with more companies to create more bee gardens
- To educate more people about the importance of wild bees and bee gardens in cities, through talks and writing articles
- Capitalise on publicity around the publication of the paperback of The Good Bee.
- Move companies away from having beehives to having bee hotels and bee gardens.