What’s in a name - or how Masons are helping to save the Red Mason Bee in Essex

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It has taken a different kind of Mason to help the Red Mason Bee which has been steadily vanishing from Essex habitats. But things are now looking better for the bee and the thousands of other flying insects that help to pollinate and enhance our environment, after being thrown a vital lifeline from Essex Freemasons.

The organisation that shares its name with the bee has made a donation to the Essex Wildlife Trust of £6,000 to set up and preserve bee and insect populations at nine of their sites across the county.

The £6,000 grant from Essex Freemasons, donated via the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons own charity, has covered the cost of setting up wild flower areas together with the installation of purpose-built Bee Sand Planters – which offer the ideal place for solitary bees such as the Red Mason to burrow in and set up home.

 Zoe Ringwood, Essex Wildlife Trust’s Landscape Conservation Area Manager ‑ South West, said “The support of the Freemasons for the Insect and Bee projects is vital to ensure that our native pollinators carry on their natural work. Habitat loss, use of pesticides and lack of wildflowers across the landscape has reduced the number of these very important workers and this support will help their populations recover.”

This has all been made possible by the donation of £6,000 from Essex Freemasons, part of the organisations’ ongoing commitment to supporting community projects.

Paul Tarrant, Provincial Grand Master of Essex, said “It is key to our commitment to our values as Freemasons that we support environmental projects of this kind. I am passionate about not only increasing our community initiatives but also to increasing our environmental ones as well, we want to ensure that the future is bright and clear for the next generations.”

The projects funded by this donation included:

The creation of Bee Sand Planters – seven of these have been produced and are spread across the EWT sites in the county. These enable ground nesting bees to burrow and create nesting chambers. They also allow wildflowers to grow and offer pollinating opportunities for the bees and other insects.

The Bee Guardian Project – specifically for the Red Mason Bee! Nine of Essex Wildlife Trust’s Nature Discovery Centres are now taking part in this project, which involves placing “Pipes” with a series of tubes (cells) in them to encourage the queens to lay a solitary egg in each cell, in wildflower environments. The tubes are collected in the autumn and stored over-winter in a central location. In the spring the pupae are distributed around the country for the new season, this helps to increase the species and just as importantly to invigorate the gene pool.

“How to support Bees and other insects” – A workshop by local expert John Little, who created the Bee Sand Planters and other green initiatives, to the Essex Wildlife Trust staff, and volunteers on supporting insects and in particular bees by creating bug hotels, habitat panels, green roofs and diversifying the structure of habitats.

Essex Freemasons support the community and local charities with donations, particularly for projects that demonstrate positive effects.

This project is one part of the planned support for the environment that will be rolled out over the next few years. 

Integrity, Respect, Charity and Friendship, together with our local Communities, are at the heart of Our Mission. 

Essex Wildlife Trust is the county’s leading conservation charity, committed to protecting wildlife and inspiring a lifelong love of nature.

The Trust manages nature reserves and discovery parks across the county, providing outstanding outdoor learning and preserving places of wonder. Founded in 1959 by volunteers, Essex Wildlife Trust protects and manages over 100 sites across Essex and is supported by 40,000 members. Together, they work together to protect the future of wildlife and nature in Essex.

“The red mason bee is a common, gingery bee, that is covered in dense gingery hair; the males are smaller than the females and sport a white tuft of hair on the face.  It is a small, common bee that nests in hollow plant stems, in holes in cliffs, and in the crumbling mortar of old buildings. It is a solitary bee so, after mating, each female builds its own nest; she lines each 'cell' with mud and pollen and lays a single egg in each until the cavity is full. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter. The red mason bee is on the wing from late March, and feeds solely on pollen and nectar.”




Picture L-R : Grant Maton, Paul Tarrant, Zoe Ringwood, Chris Hicks, Justin Collins

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To bee or not to bee - Essex Freemasons fund conservation project for pollinators | InYourArea Community