Derbyshire’s Friends of Buxton Station (FoBS), are inviting the town’s residents to become bee spotters, joining the ‘Great Bilberry Bumblebee Hunt’, taking place during the Buxton Festival Fringe (7 to 25 July). Dotted around town are a number of colourful bees adorning the windows of local shops, reflecting the theme of this year’s festival – “paint the town orange with flowers.” Orange just happens to be the most prominent colour of the Bilberry bumblebee, a threatened species found hereabouts.
Co-ordinated by the station friends, who have campaigned on behalf of bees and provided a huge planter unit called the Bumblebee Express at the station, these arty items have been created for the Hunt by local community groups including U3A’s “Knit & Natter,” Two Left Hands, Stone & Water, Fairfield Women’s Institute’s “Natty Knitters” and FoBS. The knitters created their bees from scrap yarn and wool; the Two Left Hands and Stone & Water bees evolved from recycled rubbish, made clean and safe.
Dave Carlisle, chair of FoBS said: “The Great Buxton Bilberry Bee Hunt aims to increase awareness of this special little insect, found only in mountainous areas like the Peak District; we are lucky to have them present in and around Buxton and ought to help them survive. We hope that our residents and visitors will take part, learn how to spot this special rare bee in the wild and make their gardens more bee-friendly for any that stray into town.”
The Hunt is just part of the work organised by FoBS to highlight the plight of the bees. A real life ‘bilberry bumblebee safari’ will take place on Monday 19 July, from 17:00. Run by enthusiastic amateur Buxton naturalist, Steve Orridge it will be a gentle journey from Buxton Station up to Lightwood to look for bumblebees, lizards and all manner of local wildlife. The hunt is suitable for people with conventional wheelchairs and pushchairs and best suited for accompanied wheelchair users as part of the upper access track is loose gravel. Organisers have set the maximum group size at 16: to reserve a place on this special safari, please email Bilberry.email@example.com
The GBBBH was launched by Billie, the Buxton Bilberry bumblebee fibreglass sculpture, which was donated to FoBS partners Transition Buxton by Wild in Art of Whaley Bridge. Similar to the sculptures from Manchester’s 2018 ‘Bees in the City’ Trail, Billie was brightly painted by local artist, Pam Smart (www.pamsmart.co.uk) and will stay in the shop window at Potter’s until the end of July. After the GBBB Hunt, Billie will be hosted by FoBS in the Japanese Garden at Buxton Station when not out visiting groups and schools in the community.
Legacy artwork in the form of a large mosaic has also been installed at the station as part of the GBBBH. Commissioned by FoBS and created by local artist, Jo Spencer it shows a countryside view of Lightwood with a number of bumblebees usually found there in the foreground. Jo commented: “It has been a privilege to work on such an exciting and worthwhile commission. During the process, I have gained a better understanding of bees and their needs and hope that the mosaic helps to encourage others to get involved in protecting their local bee population.”