Join in the ‘Great Buxton Bilberry bumblebee Hunt’ as the Fringe gets under way in Buxton

In one of a number of exciting projects, residents and visitors to Buxton are being invited to become bee spotters and join the ‘Great Bilberry Bumblebee Hunt’ during the Buxton Festival Fringe (7th to 25th July).  Dotted around town are a number of colourful bees adorning the windows of local shops listed below!

This year’s Fringe theme is ‘paint the town orange with flowers’ which also just happens to be the most prominent colour of the Bilberry bumblebee, a threatened species found in this area. (photograph of a Queen taken at Lightwood at end of May).

Co-ordinated by the Friends of Buxton Station (FoBS), who have campaigned on behalf of bees, the arty items made for the Bee Hunt have been created by local community groups including U3A’s Knit & Natter, Two Left Hands, Stone & Water, Fairfield Women’s Institute’s Natty Knitters and FoBS.  Buxton Junior School pupils, Leona & Sasha Jones also created two.

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, Chairman 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 Bilberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola) is one of England’s fastest declining and most scarce bumblebee species.   They’re quite easy to spot because of their large orange abdomen and two yellow stripes across the chest.  Look out for them as you walk about or potter in your garden: queens, workers and males all have the same markings. 

Join the Bilberry Bumblebee Safari with local Buxton Naturalist, Steve Orridge

The Hunt is just part of the work organised by FoBS to highlight the plight of the bees.   A real life ‘bilberry bumblebee safari’ takes place on Monday 19th July, from 5pm.  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.  Participants will find out more about the wildlife on their doorstep.  Steve will help to identify the different species seen along the way and share fascinating facts – as well as some simple things we can all do to help and protect them.  Buxton is lucky to be home to so many different bumblebee species living around Buxton and Steve will help to identify the commonest ones, find out which flowers bumblebees love the best and discover why so many of them are living under the threat of extinction from the UK!

The walk is easy access and approximately a 2.5 mile loop. Suitable for people with conventional wheelchairs and pushchairs.  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, so to reserve a place on this special safari, please email [email protected] 

The GBBBH was launched by Billie, the Buxton Bilberry bumblebee fibreglass sculpture, donated to FoBS partners Transition Buxton and Wild in Art of Whaley Bridge.  Similar to the sculptures from Manchester’s 2018 ‘Bees in the City’ Trail, Billie was brightly painted by well known local Artist, Pam Smart and is on display in the shop window of Potter’s until the end of July. Billie will then reside in the Japanese Garden at Buxton Station when not out visiting groups and schools in the community.

Pam, who provided her artistic services free of charge, said: “I was thrilled when asked to help out with this project.  It’s lovely to work with so many passionate people who love Buxton, our local wildlife and our beautiful buildings as much as I do.  I’m known for painting local buildings, so it was a challenge to work on Billie.”

Frances Sussex of Transition Buxton said: “Our Billie Bee signifies the importance of addressing our climate crisis and protecting local wildlife habitats.  Bees are crucial to safeguarding our food supply and maintaining a healthy planet through biodiversity. We want Buxton to enjoy learning about Bees as Billie buzzes around town to organisations and events, so please get in touch to request a visit.”

Rhodri Green, local project officer for The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) said: “Not just cute, cheery and charming, they are vital pollinators to many of our food crops and wildflowers.  Changes in agriculture over the last 80 years have had a drastic impact on our bumblebees, leaving them often hungry and homeless. Some UK bumblebee species have already become extinct, gone forever!”

“Those left behind like the Bilberry bumblebees really need help!  Find out how you can do your bit by providing a more bee-friendly garden, have a look at the BBCT’s website at”

Rhodri added: “It is fantastic to be involved with station friends groups like FoBS, we love their enthusiasm and supportive plans for Buxton’s bumblebees.  I work for BBCT on ‘Pollinating the Peak,’ which is a local project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund: we’ve already used this funding for training and look to do more with their money as the Buzzing Stations project work progresses.”

The following shops are displaying the bees during the GBBBH and each has a fact about this threatened insect and a note about the people who made it.  See how many you can find!

Potter’s, Terrace Road – hosting Billie throughout the event.
Hargreaves, Bells & Fitzgeralds, all on Spring Gardens
Divine Trash, Cavendish Arcade
Buxton Visitor Centre, The Crescent
Buxton Pudding Emporium, The Square
Clowes the Chemist, Cavendish Circus
Beer District Peak Ascent bike shop, all on The Colonnade
Everything’s Rosy, Hardwick Street
Tradesman’s Entrance Café, Market Place
Pig and Pepper, Symposium, Vesuvius, Day Zero, The Closet, Queenie of Shabby
Chic, Scrivener’s, all on the High Street in Higher Buxton
Green Man Gallery, Hardwick Square South
Thomas Theyer Foundation, London Road

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