Good Causes

How National Lottery-funded Buglife got Emily buzzing about bees

Emily Hughes has a passion for pollinators and thanks to her role at National Lottery-funded Buglife, her enthusiasm is being passed to a new generation.

When the 24-year-old from Telford became a paid intern at Get The Marches Buzzing – a Buglife project that’s building a pollinator ‘highway’ in the Midlands by creating or restoring flower-rich habitats that allow pollinators to move freely through the landscape – one of her responsibilities was visiting local schools to teach students about bees and the 1500 other species of insects that pollinate plants in the UK. As a result, many of the young people she worked with acquired a newfound respect for the ecosystem’s tiny toilers.

Emily said, “We’ve created a video with one of the schools and you can tell how passionate all the students now are about pollinators, especially bees and butterflies. Previously, they might have been worried about being stung but now when summer comes along, they are excited to get outdoors and look at the wildlife buzzing around them. Recently, when a wasp got into their classroom, instead of the students being scared, they managed to get it safely out the window.”

Emily clearly loves getting people of all ages ‘buzzing’ about bees. Since starting as an intern at Get The Marches Buzzing in April 2023, she was recently promoted to conservation officer.

She said, “I feel a lot more confident now. One of the great things about the job and the conservation sector in general, is that there is so much to learn which is very exciting. This role has helped me rediscover my curiosity for the natural world and I love getting outdoors and looking at everything.”

Get The Marches Buzzing is working hard to create wildflower-rich habitats across Shropshire and North Herefordshire to help create a connected landscape for bees and other pollinators. Their numbers are declining, mainly due to habitat loss, which is alarming as one out three mouthfuls of food depends on them. The project is also working to restore habitats for rare and declining species like the Dingy Skipper Butterfly and the Bilberry Bumblebee.

Emily describes the meadows and brownfield sites she’s helping restore as ‘stepping stones’ that reconnect our landscape and support nature recovery. She said, “They act as a connected link of flower-rich spaces which are really important for our bees, butterflies and pollinators as they can only travel so far without stopping to ‘refuel’ on a nearby flower, providing them with nectar and pollen”.

While Emily is fascinated by all sorts of pollinators she clearly has a soft spot for bees. She said, “There are over 270 species of bee in the UK including 24 bumblebees, 1 honeybee and over 240 species of solitary bees. Solitary bees are often not as well known as bumblebees but they are very diverse, range in size and fascinate me. Often I’ll walk past a flower and see a tiny bee on a dandelion that I would never have noticed before I got this job. Immediately my phone comes out to take a photo of it to help me identify it later!”

And yes, she has a few favourites. “I like the Hairy-footed flower bee which is a solitary bee. They appear early on in Spring and have a taste for lungwort [a plant with small, purple flowers]. I have lots of them growing in my garden, so I get to see this bee every year. Another favourite of mine is the Tawny Mining Bee. They are another solitary bee, and the female is very distinctive, with a densely orange-furred abdomen and a vibrant red thorax [Pictured. Photo credit: Claire Pumfrey]. They create burrows in loose, sandy soil and will often be seen in early spring, hovering over the ground, searching for the perfect spot to create their nest.”

Emily’s role at Get The Marches Buzzing ends in October 2024 and she’s already excited about her next step. She said, “Whatever it is, I’ll have lots more skills than I had a year ago. I’ve been really nurtured as an intern and I’ve had the opportunity to attend lots of training courses and identification workshops as well as volunteer with other projects to learn more about habitat restoration. I’m really excited to see where all this will take me and very grateful to Buglife.”

If you have a flower-rich space near you – big or small – please add it to Buglife’s B-Lines map. You can find the interactive map at

3rd July 2024

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