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Get buzzing about bees in the Tees

Last modified: 17 July 2013

Bumblebee taking off

You don’t have to be a bee expert to take part in the survey.

Image: Katie Fuller

Saltholme, the Wildlife Reserve and Discovery Park, near Middlesbrough, will be a hive of activity from the 22 – 28 July with a buzzy week of bee-themed activities.

During the week, staff at Saltholme will be encouraging as many people as possible to get involved in their ‘Bees in the Tees’ survey. The event is part of the British Ecological Society’s festival of ecology celebrations, and aims to find out more about where bumblebees live in the Tees Valley.

Professor Georgina Mace FRS, President of the British Ecological Society said: “The British Ecological Society is delighted to be working with RSPB Saltholme celebrating our Centenary year.  This event is part of our Festival of Ecology through which we hope visitors will learn more about the science of ecology and how relevant and fascinating this science is to understanding the challenges we face in the world today.”

There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, eight of which are commonly found in gardens, but sadly they have been declining in numbers. The State of Nature report recently published by the RSPB and 24 other wildlife organizations, states that bees in the UK have declined by around 40 per cent over the last 50 years.

Liz Morgan, marketing officer at Saltholme, said: “We are hoping lots of people will help us count bees in the Tees. Once we know more about the kinds of bumblebees present in Teesside and what flowers they like to visit, we can take action to help bees in our area.

“You don’t have to be a bee expert to take part in the survey. We have created a handy sheet to help people tell one bee from another. One of the easiest ways to tell them apart is by looking at their bottoms.”

During bee week special buzz zones will be set up on the reserve so visitors can have a go at the survey and help Saltholme get a better idea about where bees live on site, before taking part at home.

As part of bee week, visitors will also be able to find out much more about these fascinating creatures. There will be a short talk on bumblebees and bee keeping from two local experts on Wednesday 24 July 3pm – 4.30pm. Spaces are limited so advance booking is essential. To book a place, please call 01642 546625.

Throughout the week there will be lots of crafts, activities and ideas to help kids create homes for bees. Visitors can take part in the survey and other bee activities at Saltholme every day from 10am – 4pm.

Survey sheets can be picked up from the Saltholme visitor centre or can be downloaded at If taking part at home, completed forms should be posted back to the reserve by 14 August.

Bees in the Tees week marks the start of Saltholme’s fun packed summer holiday activities. There will be hands-on activities every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the school holidays. For more details on Saltholme’s summer activities visit

This event is being supported by the British Ecological Society, the UK’s academic learned society supporting the science of ecology. During 2013 the British Ecological Society will be celebrating its centenary with a series of events, conferences and publications that aim to increase the profile of ecological science among scientists and the public. This event is part of the Festival of Ecology, a public focussed nationwide celebration of ecological science with over sixty participating institutions across the UK. The Festival will run from 15 June - 4 August 2013.

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

Nature reserves

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