On a sunny Sunday in King’s Cross last week, we tried out the BeeTrail app, created by social enterprise The Honey Club. With a mission to create the largest bee-friendly network in the world, The Honey Club encourages people to get involved with helping vulnerable bee communities in our cities and beyond. This new app, free for iPhone or Android, is part of that mission.
The Bee Trail app takes you on a 45min walk around some of the ‘buzziest’ spots in King’s Cross. Starting at restaurant The German Gymnasium, into Granary Square, down to the canalside, up to the community gardens, past the outdoor swimming pond and ending at the fantastic Skip Garden – the walk takes in eight stops. Turn on your Bluetooth and at each stop the app will automatically ‘unlock’ the next stage (or you can manually type in a code found at each check-in point).
Each stop unlocks a few pages of fascinating bee facts and more about how London’s biodiversity supports the bee population. We learnt a few new things including the stunning fact that there are around 250 different species of bee in the UK!
Several of the stops prompt a ‘bee count’ task – start the app timer and count how many honeybees, solitary bees and two types of bumblebee you can spot within 30 seconds (a pictorial ID guide is provided if your bee knowledge is a bit rusty). On our sunny afternoon, some of these spots were surprisingly light on bees, except for two hotspots literally humming with activity. All counts are recorded as part of a wider survey on bee populations, so your ‘game’ is also a very useful bit of research.
As a thank you, each completed count unlocks rewards in the form of vouchers for discounts or freebies from some of our favourite places in the area including Dishoom, Caravan, The Grain Store, The Skip Garden, German Gymnasium, The Greek Larder, Rotunda and The Lighterman. We recommend ‘eating and drinking’ your way along the trail as you win your reward vouchers (not filling up on lunch beforehand like us – although vouchers are valid until 4th September). As an aside, do make sure you take your time at The Skip Garden – this excellent community garden has been made almost entirely with reclaimed, salvaged and recycled materials. They grow their own produce and have a cute little cafe serving great coffee and cake (and they have a covetable outdoor pizza oven!).
Exploring the redevelopment of King’s Cross, with its influx of new restaurants, bars and event spaces, you can’t help but be impressed with the fact that nature has not been forgotten in this part of the capital. Flowerbeds and window boxes full of bee-friendly plants are found all over the place – along lavender-scented pathways, within playgrounds, and lining the outdoor dining areas of restaurants. It’s a buzzy slice of nature in the city.
The Bee Trail runs until 4th September 2016 – download the app for free at www.beetrail.co.uk.