Kensington and Chelsea's Bee Superhighway

What is the BEE Superhighway project?

Bumblebee sitting on pink flower

We are creating a Bee Superhighway in Kensington and Chelsea. The Bee Superhighway is a project to protect and enhance the Boroughs habitats, increase the amount of wildflower coverage and pollinator friendly planting in Kensington and Chelsea, and introduce other features that support bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators.

We hope to create a network of pollinator ‘stepping stones’ that connect our green spaces and important habitats by providing increased nectar resources and nesting features for pollinators.

Why is it important?

In October 2019, The Council declared a Climate Emergency which also recognised the ecological emergency that we face with the loss of habitats and species continuing to occur globally and locally.  

According to Buglife, it is estimated that 84% of EU crops (valued at £12.6 billion) and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination. However, climate change, habitat loss, pollution and disease are pushing some pollinators to extinction.

Recent years have seen a worrying decline in pollinator numbers with some species declining by a quarter. The loss of suitable habitats has meant that pollinators have found it hard to find food, water and shelter.

Urban areas can play a crucial role in supporting them by increasing wildflower and nectar rich plant coverage. With our help the environment will be more resilient to climate change, and will positively contribute to improving air quality and create a diverse and functioning green infrastructure.

What do we want to achieve?

  • Create thriving pollinator hotspots across the borough forming a network of wildflowers, nectar rich planting and other features such as hedges, ponds and bug hotels, that support important pollinators.
  • Protect and enhance the boroughs biodiversity – creating habitats that support a wide range of animals and plants
  • Increase access and contact with nature for our residents as this is proven to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • Improve community involvement in their local environment, through providing guidance and educational opportunities
  • Map all the pollinator patches to build a visual picture of the Bee Superhighway

How will we do it?

  • Improve and enhance existing habitats and spaces, such as our parks, across Kensington and Chelsea
  • Introduce new wildflower rich meadows in our parks, on estates and other green areas in the Boroughi
  • Diversify planted areas with pollinator friendly plants, and introduce new areas of planting in tired grot spots 
  • Create grassland areas by relaxing the mowing regimes in some areas that will benefit a range of species
  • Build nesting habitats in the form of bug hotels
  • Provide support and guidance for residents to create their own pollinator patch 
  • Develop education resources for schools and young people  
  • Distribute 10,000 packets of wildflower seeds to residents and community gardens 

In order to measure the beneficial impacts of these projects we will be delivering training for volunteers to help with surveys to monitor pollinators in these areas. 

How can you help?

We need your help to create a thriving Bee Superhighway in Kensington and Chelsea.  Below we have included some top tips of things you can do to start you off, but watch this space as we will be updating these and offering additional resources.

We are Offering:

  • Free wildflower seed packets to residents and community gardens.
  • Educational resources for schools, and a chance to work with the ecology.
  • Learning events through a series of virtual and live events this year, see current opportunities below.

For more information or to get involved in the bee superhighway whether you’re an individual, community group, residents association, school or local business contact us at ecology.centre@rbkc.gov.uk  

Bee superhighway learning events

We are running free events throughout the spring and summer as part of the Bee Superhighway project. Find out more and book your place on our Events and Activities page.


 

Top tips for helping pollinators

 

Plant nectar rich flowers

Did you know: Simple open flowers like daisies are more nectar rich than flowers with lots of petals. Different bees have different length tongues to access different flower species- honey bee short tongues and bumblebee species much longer tongues.

Garden flowers are bred for their colours and size and no longer have much nectar. So, when choosing plants for your garden or flowerpots and boxes, try to select either native ones or look out for plants marked with a RHS plants for pollinators sign.

Great choices for pollinators include fruit and vegetables and lots of herbs. A full list of plants can be found on the RHS perfect for pollinator webpage.

Try to have early and late season flowers to create a long nectar season, remember bulbs can provide an early nectar source when there is little else at the end of winter, and they look great too.

 

Create a mini wildflower meadow or plant a mini hedgerow

Did you know: Willow is an excellent source of early spring nectar and pollen

Annual wildflower meadow mixes are easy to grow, are pollinator friendly and will bring a splash of colour to your green space, big or small. Planting a hedge of native trees and shrubs is another way of increasing pollinator source, if you have the space. Remember native species are best for all types of wildlife.

 

Buy or make a home for bees and other beneficial pollinators

Did you know: There are lots of different types of bees aside from the honeybee and the 24 species of bumble bee species including solitary species like cuckoo, leafcutter, mason and carpenter bees

You can buy or make a home for solitary bee species to nest in which can be hung from a tree or put in pot. Leaving areas of bare earth on a sunny slope will also encourage some species to nest.

You could even build your own bug hotel!

 

Provide water

Did you know: a foraging bumble bee needs a huge amount of energy so if you see a tired looking bee on the ground, leaving a sugary water near it for it to drink is often enough to perk it up so it can return to its hive.

Anything that you could put in your garden or on a balcony that allows insects access to freshwater is invaluable. This could range from building a pond to providing a saucer of freshwater with pebbles. Whatever you can provide will help the pollinators quench their thirst but remember to put in and half submerge pebbles so they can reach the water safely.

 

Mow your lawn less

Did you know: Cutting a lawn every four weeks keeps the nectar value of the lawn at its highest as plants like daisies and clover will re-flower after each mow. Rarely cut lawns will contain flowers that only flower once but are useful for increasing the range and season to pollinators.

A host of wildflowers grow on lawns alongside the grass but regularly mowing prevents them from flowering. Cutting your lawn less frequently will allow these flowers to bloom and is a very easy way to provide more nectar sources for pollinators.

 

Avoid Chemicals

Did you know: Intensive farming practices in the countryside has caused a huge decline in insect life through its use of pesticides, habitat degradation and fragmentation.

Try to avoid using chemical and pesticides to control disease or pests in gardens or on your flowers. These can kill off the beneficial pollinators as well as the pests.

 

Make a mini wildlife reserve area

Did you know: Stinging nettles can be a host species to up to 40 different species of invertebrates including the caterpillars of a few butterfly species.

Create or let a small part of your greenspace grow wild, this is an excellent way of providing both food and nesting opportunities for pollinators. A woodpile can be used as a nesting or hibernation site.

 

Further Information

For Further information here are some helpful links: