Highfield’s Bee Sanctuary

Hand-painted sign

We have been working across the length of the two entrances on Cringle Road to Highfield Park, removing litter and a huge amount of bramble. We are creating a tranquil walk-through picnic and garden area, leading on to a wild flower meadow, and woodland edge, via eco-paths made from wood chips and logs.  There is a mix of perennial plants, flowers, wild flowers, herbs and trees to make sure there is lots of pollen for each season in this area of the park.

Woodchip path

This is a place that Bees will grow to love and come back to year after year. It is a safe green space, for educating and inspiring people about the beauty of wildflowers and wild spaces. The walk through Meadow and woodland bank and picnic area along Marla’s highway leads to an area for non-native flower beds on different levels. We now have 6 raised beds, containing garden flowers, herbs and vegetables, all which flower and attract bees and other pollinators. Our picnic area,  is still awaiting a picnic bench, but already has a dog and child friendly pond, so the splashing can happen whilst preserving our other ponds for wildlife. 

Little girl sits on bench between planters

Around the corner alongside Ellis Avenue we have made 3 wildlife ponds running down the gradient, rich in water loving plants and wild life. Ponds are important in order to help as many different species of bee as possible and make best use of the different surrounding habitats.

Pond under construction
Memorial trees

2020 we completed multiple eco pathways, with dead hedge borders, and woodpiles, made from trimmed branches, and clearing overgrown brambles and other invasive non-natives. The cleared areas were weeded, planted and sown to create wildflower meadows. The woodland edge area, next to Chokey’s Path has been named ‘Forget-me-not Wood’, dedicated to all those lost to us during this strange time of Pandemic.

2023- We now have 3 wildflower meadows, again carved out of the huge bramble patch. Currently we are developing the woodland with a woodland walk, and experimenting with fungi, woodchippings, and coppicing to improve biodiversity.

How does all this help Bees? 


Without Bees there would be no flowers as we know them, as the two evolved together… Let that sink in. So we need as many flowers (single not double) as we can encourage in gardens and wild green spaces, and we need flowers throughout the year, and we need flowers that Bees like! 


Bees are killed by chemicals… Modern farming is destroying our pollinators, so urban organic green spaces may save Bees from extinction.


There are many species of wild Bee that are adapted to different habitats, and some associate with particular wild flowers, so we need to maximise the biodiversity of our Sanctuary, and plan to encourage wildflower species that we know will increase the biodiversity of bee species that find sanctuary here.


The Bee Sanctuary is very important to a lot of people especially during lockdown, and we understand that people won’t fight to save nature unless they experience it, develop loyalty to our native wild spaces, and gain the knowledge of what they can do to help save our collapsing nature. We want this to be a start of many more Bee Sanctuarys. People can save bees if they become wildlife gardeners.

Green Projects close by

Bluebell Pond

The old duck pond beside Highfield farm, now at the centre of Highfields Nature Reserve. It has been renamed Bluebell pond and is led by Francis and now Han. From a pond filled with litter and logs it is becoming a wildlife haven. The pond will be renovated by a team of contractors led by and ecologist in the autumn of 2024. There is a plan to remove the sycamores that are taking a lot of light and put a fence around to deter dogs. We love dogs, but their flea treatment is lethal to pond life.

Lock Down Bee Sanctuary Gardens

During Lockdown 2019-2022 we encouraged our volunteers to create Bee Sanctuaries in their gardens. Much enthusiasm, and effort has gone into this, and you can view photos in our gallery. Some gardens were made from scratch. Others are using ideas from the Bee Sanctuary to enhance their Bee Friendliness. A mix of non-native and native flowers are great for Bees, and can extend the season of flowering, so our gardens are a vital resource for bees and other insects.

Research Garden

One garden in particular has become an important project for us, as an Education and Research Station  It is the garden of our bee, wasp and insect researcher, Karen M. Karen is Manchester’s leading Bee Wasp and Ant Recorder. She has been a great help to us with our project, through monitoring insect activity, giving advice and inspiration to volunteers also through providing our Bee Talks. Karen was already making important finds in her small front garden, but her back garden had become another huge bramble mono culture over the years. With the help of Robin the space has been cleared, dug over, Eco paths created, and pond dug. There are many other ideas to help Bees and Wasps and other wildlife being researched and planned. Our Aim? To create a site for Karen’s special scientific interests, and to educate and inspire others. Karen is looking forward to welcoming interested visitors. 

Friends of Chapel St – Bluebell Green

Chapel St Park Friends Group and Bluebell Green

We helped set up a Friend’s group for this neglected park and kick started a growing project on the old bowling green. It is now called “Bluebell Green and is going from strength to strength. Find them on Facebook, as friends of Chapel St Park.

Highfield Fungi Farm

Kel Degnen has become a BSM Trustee in 2022. and is an enthusiast for community growing, and one of her interests is growing fungi. Combine this with the natural role of fungi as a vital component of soils biodiversity and we have an interesting project to hasten the return of natural woodland to plantations on Highfield, part of which is a historic tip. We are working together on this project.

Marbury Farm, Community Growing Project

We celebrate the start of a new project to develop the former wet grazingat the Southern end of Nelstrop Rd North into a community growing project. The BSM is contributing by developing an area of meadows,to grow wild flowers. We want to demonstrate the difference between Hay meadow (perennials encouraged by yearly mowing) and Cornfield (ploughed yearly encouraging annuals). Watch this space.