Volunteer-built bee garden removed from bus stop over ‘immediate health and safety concern’

‘We were just a group of friends feeling depressed about the nature and climate crisis, and wanted to do something positive’

A local wildlife group have been left “heartbroken” after a bee garden created on a bus stop was removed just two days after it was introduced.

The group of friends, who go under the name of Bee The Change (BTC), built the community bee garden on top of a bus stop outside Montpelier High School on Cheltenham Road on Saturday (July 16).

They claimed the bee garden was installed as a call to protect local nature and declining bee populations - and also a plight to try and ‘do something positive’ amidst the climate crisis.

But on Monday (July 18), the bee haven was torn down by Clear Channel, which is responsible for maintaining all of the bus shelters owned by Bristol City Council.

Work taking place to create the bee garden on a bus stop - which was later removed

A spokesperson for the company said that the bus shelter was not built to take any ‘additional’ weight on its roof and it posed an ‘immediate health and safety concern and risk’ to anyone standing underneath it.

Advertisement

They said: “After discussions with Bristol City Council, we jointly decided the best course of action was to remove the plants.

“The plants and flowers are being well looked after in our Bristol depot and we’d really like to return them to Bee The Change - we’d encourage them to get in touch through our website.”

Yet the company claim they hope to trial their own Living Roofs in Bristol in autumn.

The spokesperson added: “These shelters are specially designed and tested to take the increased weight and would feature a carefully selected mix of plants to promote biodiversity. If the trial is successful, we will look to roll these out at bus shelter sites across the city.”

The bee garden before it was removed

However, the decision has left those who established the bus stop ‘heartbroken’.

Advertisement

Emma, a spokesperson for the group, said: “We were just a group of friends feeling depressed about the nature and climate crisis, and wanted to do something positive.

“So many people are feeling powerless but everyone can do something small that can have a positive impact for nature.”

Emma says this action is the first the group have undertaken, and were hoping the bee garden would ‘inspire people to take action in their own lives’.

She said: “A little bee can’t do much on its own, but collectively they are critical for wildlife.

“We are very sad at the removal of the garden - particularly those in the group who had been watering these seedlings on their patio for months, and now our gardeners are saying they will have been destroyed.

And the bus stop after the garden was taken down

Advertisement

“It’s disheartening - obviously we don’t want anyone to be harmed, it was purely a positive thing for the people in the community.”

Emma added that the actions of Clear Channel were ‘inconsistent’, as she argued that the shelter bore the weight of the group ‘very well’.

She added: “Bee stops have been put up in other cities - so why not ours? It’s damaging not only public health and wellbeing but our environment too.”

The local wildlife group has been left angered by the garden removal

Clear Channel has installed bee gardens on its own bus stops before, but they say that these are specially designed ‘Living Roofs’, which are tested to ensure they take the increased weight.

According to BTC, the bee garden was installed by professional carpenters and gardeners with a recycled wooden frame, held in place by industrial glue.

Advertisement

They say it held over eight types of bee-friendly flowers, and that two accompanying bus stop posters were put up to explain the benefits that wildlife can bring, including cleaner air and better health for people.