Cornwall park creates a buzz in green awards

David Bellamy, above, says the park's 5000 honey bees are helping to fight the recent decline in their numbers

David Bellamy, above, says the park’s 30,000 honey bees are helping to fight their recent decline in numbers

More than 30,000 honey bees have helped a St Austell retirement park to wing its way to a top environmental award from TV botanist David Bellamy.

Gainsborough Park in Foxhole is among just 14 of Britain’s 3000-plus parks to achieve a special distinction on top of its David Bellamy Conservation Award.

The family-run business, where around 110 park homes are located, achieved its prestigious accolade after creating a safe haven for the endangered honey bee.

In an initiative involving both the family and park residents, seven hives are now installed in the grounds, each home to around 5000 honey bees.

Their thriving future at Gainsborough says Carol Syms, a member of the park-owning family, is assured thanks to the park’s large number of high nectar-bearing blooms.

There are many country walks from and around the park

There are many country walks from and around the park

They are abundant both in the gardens of residents, and in the park’s wildflower meadow which provides an invaluable foraging resource for the insects.

But although Gainsborough’s buzzy guests stay and eat for free, they return the favour by supplying the park with many pots of honey which are enjoyed by residents and also sold locally.

Carol Syms says she was inspired to bring in the hives after attending a bee-keeping course held locally:

“We used locally sourced timber  to build three hives initially, and invested in bee suits and the various tools which are needed to maintain an apiary,” said Carol.

“Everyone was delighted with how the honey bees settled in so quickly and foraged on the nearby flowers, which encouraged many park residents to plant more in their gardens.

“It also became apparent that our old apple trees were quickly gaining a new lease of life – and some said that eating a teaspoon of honey each day had cured their hayfever allergy!

“We’re now up to seven hives in total, and have received great support from the local beekeepers association; we’ve also taken the basic national exam on beekeeping to extend our knowledge.

“I must admit I’m now something of a bee fanatic, and have visited our local primary school to explain the vital role played by these insects, and the threats they face.

“You can never hope to make money from keeping bees, but they repay us in so many other ways.

St Austell bay is just a short distance from the park

St Austell Bay is just a short distance from the park

“Gaining this special award from David Bellamy is fantastic, but credit also must go to our park residents for the way they’ve rallied round to keep Gainsborough bee-friendly,” added Carol.

Professor Bellamy’s distinction comes on top of the gold award the park received for its raft of different initiatives to help safeguard the natural world.

He also praised the large number of bird boxes and other wildlife habitats created around the grounds, including those supplied by the traditional Cornish hedging the park maintains.

David Bellamy applauded too the park’s harvesting of rainwater for irrigation, its recycling policies, low-level lighting, and decision to ban harmful pest control chemicals.

“Our family has always tried to ensure that Gainsborough is run along sustainable lines, and that benefits not just the environment but the park’s appearance too,” said Carol.

“And it’s not just honey bees which enjoy all the flowers, but also a host of other pollinators. Our butterfly population has also soared and makes a wonderful sight!” she added.

There is more information about the park at www.gainsboroughpark.co.uk

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