The trail starts off in Granary Square where we learn about the problem behind the number of bees falling. The main issue with urban environments such as London do not allow bees to thrive as they may not find enough places to collect pollen from plants as well as little places for them to live. 97% of wildlife meadows have disappeared resulting from modern farming and urbanisation in the UK since 1945. Without any places to forage, there is no food supply for bees, which spells trouble for us as they help pollinate two thirds of our food as well as bringing the whole ecosystem to slowly disintegrate.
Hyssops, a culinary herb, can be found running along the restaurants’ sides in Granary Square from July to September.
This segment allows participants to look for bees within an area of forage at Camley Street wild patch picking a spot about 2 metres squared with 30 seconds to complete the activity. The different bees to spot are the honey bee, the buff-tailed bumblebee, the common carder bee and the leafcutter bee. The bees counted would be collected into a database. This activity unlocks vouchers to restaurants Dishoom and the Grain Store.
This part of the trail follows on from the previous with another 30 seconds challenge of counting the bees spotted in plots of plants lined up along this side of the Garden. This activity unlocks voucher to the Greek Larder and Rotunda.
4. Handyside Gardens (north)
Bees only eat nectar and pollen from plants, which they feed on from early spring to late autumn. The Honeybees like simple daisy-like flowers. Some bees may have long tongues which are used to drink nectar from tubular flowers.
Bees won’t like certain things such as double-headed flowers which they find difficulty in getting the pollen and nectar. Pelargoniums which are often mis-sold as geraniums are sterile and should be replaced by true geranium for pollen and nectar. Weed killers and pesticide should not be used as they are linked to bee deaths worldwide.
Ways to help bees out are first-off to plant bee-friendly plants in gardens, window boxes, pots and hanging baskets. Allow the growth of flowers, vegetable bolt and dandelions in the lawn as well as wild patches and a tree for bees to forage. Not only can we do our bit but we can also put the word forward to councils and landscape managers to plant bee-friendly plants and trees.
5. King’s Cross Pond
This part of the trail explores beekeeping and the importance of it. A beekeeper can manage up to a colony of 50,000 honeybees. They create honey for food during the winter season which are harvested for us to eat. You can enrol on a course with a local beekeeping association or mentor which can be found on the British Beekeeping Association and Urban Bees.
Another 30 seconds bee count challenge at the wild patches found skirting along the bottom of the viewing platform near King’s Cross Pond. This unlocks a voucher for Skip Garden.
7. Skip Garden
The last part of the trail ends at Skip Garden. Bees are under threat as there are less places that are undisturbed and solitary wastelands for wild bumblebees to nest. There are many places where bees can live such as man-made hives, holes in the ground, old animal nests, pile of leaves and bird boxes. Ways to create homes for bees can be found at beeconservation.org and urbanbees.co.uk.
The app is available for download on Apple and Android devices and uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the hotspots to unlock the content at each stop. Alternatively, codes can be found at each stop which can be inputted into the app. I hope they bring this back as a permanent fixture as the trail is of course very enlightening about how our interactions can help bees grow and thrive.#KXBeeTrail