Bee Orchids on the grass
Bee Orchid

The University has won this year’s Best Newcomer Wildlife Garden award for its significant biodiversity development across the Cranfield campus.

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s (BCN) Wildlife Trust were particularly impressed by Cranfield’s wildflower plots and the increasing number of protected areas where Bee Orchids can grow. Being the county flower of Bedfordshire, the Bee Orchid takes its name from its main pollinator - the bee - and is recognisable by its similar appearance to bees. Cranfield’s Bee Orchids, which tend to flower around May and June, are scattered across the campus. 

Gareth Ellis, Energy and Environment Manager at Cranfield University, commented: “We’re delighted to have received the Best Newcomer Wildlife Garden award. The company that helps us manage and maintain our grounds, Nurture, has been great with providing guidance and advice throughout the process and have recently established bee hives on site. The award serves to reinforce the University’s commitment to transforming the campus into a natural and pleasant area for staff and students, we also look forward to making it more of a teaching and research resource with the establishment of a Living Lab.” 

Cranfield’s six-year Urban BESS (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability) Project, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), investigates what role biodiversity and ecosystems will play in cities as the global population continues to grow. As part of the project, some small plots of wildflowers were established on campus, which helped stimulate more action across the University estate to improve biodiversity. The University has installed nest boxes, which attract birds such as blue tits, robins, starlings, sparrows and yellow hammers. Areas have been set aside to encourage wildflowers and attract fauna with sightings of water shrews, kingfishers and otter. There are further plans to introduce allotment plots. 

More recently, two bird feeders have been installed on campus as part of the University’s Green Fund prize which is awarded to employees who save energy at work, for example, by turning lights off at the end of the day. 

Notes for editors

The Wildlife Gardening at Work Awards are open exclusively to BCN Wildlife Trust’s corporate members and recognises dedication to looking after wildlife around the workplace. Other winners included specialist sand and cement company, David Ball Group, who won the Best Wildlife Sighting in a Wildlife Garden for the foxes, badgers, deer, buzzards and stoats around their workplace; mechanical and engineering business, Building Services Design, for Best Small Space Wildlife Garden and Best Employee Engagement in a Wildlife Garden; and Anglian Water Services for the Most Improved Wildlife Garden and Best Use of Recycled Materials in a Wildlife Garden.  

There is more information on Bee Orchids on BCN Wildlife Trust’s website.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.