Red campion and background walkers

Bee Walk: discover bee-friendly habitats

Enjoy a walk with friends or family, and discover whether your neighbourhood is bee friendly.
  Published:  15 May 2018    |      3 minute read

What is a Bee Walk?

A Bee Walk is a ramble with friends or family, with a focus on bees and your local environment. It's a great way to enjoy the Great British Bee Count, as you can record any bees you spot and contribute to our bee survey.

You'll also discover more about the habitats which are attractive to bees – what spaces provide food and shelter, and what could be improved.

How does it help research?

Each bee you spot will appear on our Great British Bee Count Map if you take part with the app. Thousands of sightings which have been submitted with photos will feed into the government's Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS).

You don’t need to know the difference between a Red-tailed bumblebee and a Common carder bee - our free app will help you identify different species. It also includes a guide to bee-friendly-plants, so you might be inspired to grow plants at home to help bees thrive in your area.

If you don't have a smartphone, you can order our Great British Bee Count flyer, which includes a Bee spotter's guide.

People walking near wildflowers
Hackney & Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth bee walk
Credit: Hackney & Tower Hamlets Friends of the Eart

Bee Walk - what to look for

While you identify and record different species of bee, you'll probably notice things about their preferred locations. Are there bee-friendly plants, readily available water and bee nesting spaces?

You might also start to think about whether there are any developments that could help or hinder bees - is there a new area of roadside planting? Has a new car park wiped out an established green space?

Bee-friendly plants

Are there areas where bees and butterflies are particularly attracted to the flowers?

Are there any specific plants or trees that attract a lot of bees, butterflies and other pollinators? There may be someone in your group who is a keen gardener who can help identify plants, or you could invite someone from the local Wildlife Trust.

Nesting spaces

Good nesting spots or shelter for bees include dead wood, open masonry, tall dense grasses, and sunny bare ground near low-cut grass and ponds. You'll find more details about what type of nesting space different species prefer in the Great British Bee Count app.

You might also spot bee hotels - these can be made, or bought, and are a great way to provide valuable nesting sites for solitary bees such as Red mason bees and Leafcutter bees.

Water

Bees need water as well as nectar. This water needs to be clean, fresh (not salt) water. It doesn’t need to be a river or pond, a small bowl of shallow water could help.

Did you know? Honey bees use water to cool down their hive, dilute nectar, and feed their young larvae.

What else should I look for?

Streets, parks, schools, churches, and public housing are all places that could be home to bee-friendly planting. Importantly it prompts the question “If there’s not yet any bee-friendly planting, who do you think could change this? Where are the potential planting opportunities?"

Explore your local parks

Is the space managed in ways that are good or bad for bees? For example, is the whole area regularly cut very short? This isn’t good for bees and most other insects, which much prefer places where wildflowers are allowed to grow.

Road verges and hedgerows

If they’re cut down, or cut in the wrong way and at the wrong time, it will be having a negative impact on bees.

Inspire your town or community to develop and protect habitats for bees and other pollinating insects.

Ask your council to develop a Pollinator Action Plan.

Attendees on a walk at Friends of the Earth's Basecamp 2013

Case study: Manchester Friends of the Earth

We had about 17 people on our Bee Walk. We walked round the city centre – from an area where bird boxes have been put up to attract birds, to gardens between lots of office blocks where people can sit and enjoy nature, over the river to where there has been some planting – then along the canal where measures are being taken to attract wildlife.

We also visited an award-winning garden from Tatton Park Flower Festival – loads of wildflowers and features to attract wildlife.

We publicised the event in the newsletter we send out to our mailing list. We ensured we had bee literature and packs of seeds to give to people to take away. After the walk we all went for a drink which was a good chance to get to know the new people and tell them more about the group.

Inspired to plan a Bee Walk?

If you'd like to organise a Bee Walk for people in your neighbourhood, we can add details to our Great British Bee Count Events Map.

You can also order free Great British Bee Count resources - please give us as much notice as possible to deliver them in time for your walk.

We'd love to hear all about your Bee Walk. Why not share your photos on social media with the hashtag #GreatBritishBeeCount or email us at [email protected]

Join the great british bee count