Colourful campus wildflower gardens meet ‘Bees’ Needs’
Ongoing measures to make the University of Sussex campus a welcome habitat for bees have been recognised with a Bees’ Needs award for 2019.
The award, which recognises bee-conservation efforts through active support for pollinating insects, has been made to just 33 winners across the UK.
It’s the second year running that the University has won this award, following projects to build ‘bee hotels’ and grow pollinator-friendly plants that led to a Bees’ Needs award for 2018.
Together they have created colourful wildflower beds, which are mixed from 40 species of nectar-rich flowers, to support the behaviours and needs of local bee populations in specific locations on campus.
This year, ten new wildflower areas - by Sussex House, the Meeting House, Falmer House, Arts, ACCA and the subway under the A27 - have attracted a diverse range of bees and social insects.
Dr Karin Alton, Research Fellow in LASI and a consultant for FlowerScapes Ltd, said: “It is great to see that the University of Sussex has once again won a Bees’ Needs Champions Award, in the Year of Green Action.
“It is a tribute to the cooperation between the Estates and Facilities team and bee research groups such as LASI that our green spaces continue to flourish and provide homes and forage for flower-visiting insects, while students and staff enjoy the visual attraction of a flower-rich campus.”
As well as planting and maintaining the wildflower beds, the SEF Grounds Maintenance team has worked all year round on other measures to enhance and protect biodiversity on campus, including planting native species.
In addition, the team has reduced the frequency of mowing in certain areas; this allows naturally occurring wildflowers to bloom, which then creates extra nectar and pollen for the flower-visiting insects.
Ashley Wilcox, Grounds Maintenance Manager for SEF, said: “We’re delighted that a diverse range of invertebrates have been documented on our campus this year, including 82 species of bee.
“And to achieve worldwide recognition two years running with a Bees’ Needs award is excellent news.
“It acknowledges the dedication of my team and Sussex Estates and Facilities to improving biodiversity within the campus, and also to promoting student wellbeing and the student experience.”
Possible wildlife-friendly campus plans for the future include separating areas for high, medium and low management, which can create a mosaic of habitats and help to provide forage for pollinators.
Low-management areas, for example, would be left to completely ‘rewild’; this would be good for pollinators in the first year as flowers pop up, and in subsequent years with the growth of flowering shrubs.
For more information on wildflower gardens and groundskeeping at Sussex, visit the SEF website.