Ingatestone and Wivenhoe rail stations help towns win Bee Friendly awards

Published on: Wednesday, 7 June 2023
Last updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Bee Friendly award

Above: Ingatestone station adopters, Robert Fletcher and Neil Bromiley, with their Bee Friendly award. Credit: Greater Anglia

Efforts to support bees at two rail stations in Essex have helped the towns they serve secure ‘Bee Friendly’ awards.

The awards were given to Ingatestone and Wivenhoe by the ‘Bee Friendly Trust’ and recognise work done by residents to create areas which provide food and shelter for bees and other creatures.

Greater Anglia’s volunteer station adopters and the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership were involved in helping both towns achieve their awards thanks to the bee-friendly planting and projects that have taken place at both towns’ rail stations.

At Ingatestone, Greater Anglia’s volunteer station adopters have planted extensive bee-friendly borders at the station incorporating a mix of wild and cultivated plants such as thistles, nettles and brambles, and self-seeding annuals such as hollyhock, evening primrose, agapanthus, daisy and allium to provide a nectar-rich refuge for bees and other pollinators.

They also installed 12 containers on the platforms and outside the ticket office which not only provide summer colour for those passing by but are useful during the winter to provide food and shelter for birds and other small invertebrates.

Wivenhoe was named a ‘Bee Friendly Town’ for its many green spaces and unmown wildflower verges and its “Garden for Nature” initiative which encourages households to leave parts of their lawns unmown, sow wildflowers and install bug hotels.

Wivenhoe rail station has played a large part in the initiative as the station adopters have worked with the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership to become a ‘Bee Friendly Rail Station’ and recently installed a pollinator-friendly herb garden.

The awards are given by the Bee Friendly Trust to encourage towns, villages and community groups to transform concrete jungles into wildlife havens.

Wivenhoe and Ingatestone rail stations were among eight winners nationally.

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said: “Our station adopters and the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership have supported Ingatestone and Wivenhoe in being recognised nationally by the Bee Friendly Trust.

“I would like to congratulate the volunteers at these stations for their efforts and thank them for supporting biodiversity locally.”

Dr Luke Dixon, co-founder of the Bee Friendly Trust, said: “Each winner was carefully selected for their pollinator-protecting efforts. From creating lavender beds on a station platform to sowing wildflowers within a church cemetery; from encouraging businesses to display floral hanging baskets to organising community tree planting; and from supporting guerrilla gardening to installing bug and bird boxes, the towns and groups not only showed their commitment to creating habitats for bees and myriad wildlife, but also engaged their community with child-friendly activities such as seed bomb making and bee ID trails.”

There are nine criteria to meet in order to attain ‘Bee Friendly’ status which includes planting up roundabouts, encouraging bee-friendly schools, pubs and businesses, putting up homes for wildlife, planting wildflowers and being pesticide-free.

Jayne Sumner, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved. We are pleased to have played a part through our support of the wildlife garden at the station.

“Across Essex, rail stations are becoming very important spaces where we are supporting the volunteer station adopters in creating havens for wildlife.”

In addition to Bee Friendly status, all of the winners receive a Bee Friendly Award, designed by Steve Chapman, plus wildflower seeds to distribute and the opportunity to apply for an additional Bee Friendly prize in the form of £300 to commission a commemorative piece of bee-themed artwork.

Rail stations in East Anglia are increasingly becoming havens for local wildlife thanks to the efforts of over 300 volunteers who last year transformed over 7,400 square meters of land into thriving wildlife gardens.

In a recent survey, Greater Anglia station adopters reported a wide range of creatures visiting their stations including many different types of butterflies as well as bees, slow worms, bats, foxes, toads, lizards, deer and many varieties of birds, recording more than 200 different species.