Professor Dave Goulson, a biologist and conservationist from Sussex University, who has spent 25 years studying bees and is the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, educated around 90 members and visitors with a talk entitled ‘Saving our Bumblebees’. Professor Goulson explained that due to large-scale changes to the way the countryside is managed there has been a major decline in bumblebees over the past century. A combination of public demand for cheap food and the mechanisation of agriculture has greatly reduced the density of the flowering plants that bumblebees feed on and left far fewer sheltered areas for them to nest. Some of our rarest species, notably the Great Yellow, now only survive in Scotland and the Scottish Isles.
The only way to boost bumblebee populations and prevent extinctions is to ensure that large areas of farmed countryside are managed sympathetically. Providing even small patches of flower-rich habitat around your garden will make a real difference. To encourage bumblebees into a garden it is important to grow flowers that are useful to bees. Some flower have petals that form long tunnels which are too narrow for bees to feed from while other flowers may not be rich enough in pollen and nectar. If you find a bee on the ground it may be cold through lack of nectar and it is possible to revive it with some sugar water.
Tricia Hall delivered her popular Nature Notes after a break for refreshments by informing the Group that around 100 Swallows and House Martins were seen passing through with some drinking from the Rife on their way, and Meadow Pipits were spotted at the Country Centre. Also nests were found in 10 of the 11 nest boxes sited around the village which makes this project worthwhile.
Ed Miller concluded the meeting with the latest planning news. He advised the Group that Worthing District Council has at last published its Local Plan with Brooklands Park and the northern and southern Goring Gaps all being confirmed as protected open spaces. The detached house proposed at 55, Sea Lane had been approved but the planning application from the Andalucía restaurant for two outside tables and four chairs is still to be decided.