We began as a small number of local people that wanted to clear away the litter and sow wild flower seed in a neglected area of our local Nature Reserve.
We have become a community based volunteer group, with over 50 followers and registered charity that focuses on re-wilding and enhancing our neglected green spaces in our local areas. We want to increase biodiversity and create Bee and wildlife friendly spaces. Using 100% Community Energy, we encourage people to learn more about nature through their green spaces and gardens. We are creating beautiful, diverse and educational spaces, as well as providing advice and education about Bees.
Introducing Our Trustees
Nicole – inspiring vision, great log shifter and now Chairperson
Sheila – litter picker, wildflower enthusiast, and now Co-ordinator
Brian – litter picker, champion bramble basher, and now our Treasurer
Robin – organic gardener, garden creator, great all-rounder, and now our Outreach person
And… Our Consultant
Karen – loves bugs, and knows them all by name! Greater Manchester Recorder for the ‘Bees, Wasps, and Ants Recording Society’, and our education and research specialist.
Plus many other volunteers including; artists, designers, gardeners, path builders, wildlife enthusiasts, litter pickers, and goodness knows what else we do in our day jobs!
How It All Began
By Nicole Henry our Chairperson
The idea for a “Bee Sanctuary” was dreamed up back in 2017, as I wanted to give back to my local park, and save the Bees. I was encouraged to enter the idea in the Aviva Community Fund Competition by a lovely friend of Highfield Park and Nature Reserve, Peter Hunt.
The idea was to create a Bee Sanctuary, full of lots of different food sources for bees, mainly native (nature reserve) and some non-native areas (gardens). I wanted this to be a space that could inspire people to action… and not just one space but a movement to change our green areas to encourage bees and other wildlife. Being Mancunian and with the awful Manchester Arena Event earlier that year, the Mancunian Bee was strongly visible all over the city. It’s incredible how we supported each other! It was a sign…
Nature has always been a wonderful healer especially in unprecedented times and it’s important for us to have a more meaningful relationship with it once again. Here was the vision! Lots of us lovely little Mancunian city bees retreating to our green spaces. Appreciating and giving back to nature. A space for everyone. We didn’t win the competition, but we got nearly 1000 votes and £100 to start the project! This was amazing…
At this time, I remained unaware of other likeminded individuals able to help with such an idea … until one day in August 2019 I received a phone call. It was Sheila, who had been in contact with Peter who had told her about the idea! For a while now, Sheila had been volunteering on the park each opportunity that she could, trying to clear up the litter strewn area near Cringle Road, made worse by contractors who had sprayed herbicide. After looking at the rubbish for 30 odd years she was finally moved to action. But litter picking was not enough, Sheila wanted to restore the wildness, the idea of creating a Bee Sanctuary was inspirational, a goal to focus on. From that phone call we decided Let’s Do It, let’s make the Sanctuary happen!
Our Brian had been also already helping to shift the litter, and was up for the idea. A sign board was painted by a crew of artists, and put up, symbolising that we were officially up and running with our first Bee Sanctuary. A little while later we met Robin who is an organic gardener with bags of knowledge and willing to dedicate much of his time and hard work to our shared vision. The Bee Sanctuary Movement sprang to life!
In January 2020 we became a registered charity. We are working locally in South Manchester on projects and educational sessions in Levenshulme and neighbouring areas within Manchester. We have a knowledgeable volunteer Karen to provide education about bees, to build our education base. We are becoming more experienced as each day passes, sometimes learning from mistakes! Who knows where this journey will take us.
We are a growing band of volunteers, and together we are transforming Highfields Park. Less and less litter, more and more wildlife. During lockdown we put the call out to transform our gardens into Bee Sanctuaries, and have enjoyed sharing our experiences. We are setting up one special garden, Karen’s, as a Bee Sanctuary Research Centre from scratch literally. Karen’s garden like our Highfield Bee Sanctuary was one big bramble patch! We have spawned further activity in the park, with the Bluebell Pond Project run by Frances. ‘Bee Sanctuary No Dig Children’s Allotments’ and ‘Forest School’ on Chapel Street Park are next on the horizon.
We would love for you to join our movement. Get in contact with us if you have an idea for your local area or greens space, or simply share what you have been up too!