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Zooming with Bees

Once again, our thanks to Brigit Strawbridge Howard for her series of monthly Zoom talks for Planet Shaftesbury. The series began in March with an overview of insect pollinators, their role and importance in terrestrial ecosystems, touched on the varieties of bee types (honey-bees, bumble-bees and solitary bees) and concluded with a more detailed look at honey-bees. In April, Brigit dealt with the life-cycle, habitats, and practices of bumble-bees, of which there are twenty four different species in the UK, eight of which are currently under threat of extinction. May’s talk took us through the huge diversity of solitary bees, which vary in size, colouring, and nesting habits. We concluded in June with an examination of bee decline, and that of pollinators in general. The prime causes being both the loss and fragmentation of habitats, the prevalence of pesticide and fertilizer use in agriculture, climate change, pollution and the arrival of non-native species, often as competitors or bearers of diseases to which native species lack resistance. On a more positive note, Brigit took us through the many things we can do, directly or indirectly, to help reverse this disturbing trend. These included going pesticide free, growing nectar rich plants, providing potential nesting spots, increasing ‘wild’ areas, less mowing, and participating in community wildlife initatives.

Just before the first lockdowns began, Planet Shaftesbury had scheduled Brigit to do a live talk at the Town Hall. Her decision more recently to move away from Shaftesbury prompted these Zoom talks, as it is very much her hope that the work she has initiated with the Town Council to make Shaftesbury a bee-friendly town will be continued. In the last session she introduced us to local ecologist Mariko Whyte, who is working with the Town Council on the development of wildflower verges, amongst other wildlife supporting initiatives. Mariko will be directly involved in the continuation of Brigit’s work here and can be contacted at

The four talks were all recorded and can be accessed on You Tube at the following links:

We wish Brigit well in her new location. Find out more about her work and check out her book ‘Dancing with Bees’ at

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