Join in the buzz at UK’s first major pollinator conference and fringe in Carlisle

Join in the buzz at UK’s first major pollinator conference and fringe in Carlisle

Image credit: Alex Dittrich

The UK’s biggest gathering of pollinator enthusiasts and professionals will be hosted by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle on Friday 23 September.

It is part of The Big Buzz National Pollinator Conference and Fringe which is taking place in Carlisle, from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 September.

At the university’s Brampton Road campus on Friday, the national pollinator event will dive into the world of pollinator declines to ask: why are our pollinating insects in decline and what can we do to save them?

Friday’s conference on the campus will bring together national experts in the field and the public is invited to join in, either in person or online.

Delegates will have the opportunity to find out about the issues surrounding pollinator decline, exchange ideas and be involved in discussion.

Key names at The Big Buzz conference will include Professor Dave Goulson, eminent author and academic, who will give a keynote address on saving our insects, as well as Brigit Strawbridge, wildlife gardener and author.

There will also be interactive workshops, covering subjects that will challenge, encourage and stimulate debate and action for pollinators, whether at the local level or the development of regional pollinator strategies.

The Big Buzz Conference will be followed by the Wildlife Trusts’ WildLIVE: Are we living through an insect apocalypse? on Friday 23 September, from 7.00pm to 8.30pm.

This live debate will be hosted by The Wildlife Trusts’ Chief Executive, Craig Bennett and the panel will include Professor Dave Goulson and Dr Erica McAlister from the Natural History Museum.

Questions can be put to the expert panel, as it discusses whether we are facing an insect apocalypse – whilst also investigating how we got to this point and what we can do to turn it around.

Stephen Trotter, CEO, Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “This conference will be a fantastic opportunity for us to get together with experts to ask what we can do to help the decline of pollinating insects. Our wild pollinators are in trouble. More than half of Cumbria and the UK's bee, butterfly and moth species have declined in the past 50 years. The reason for this rapid decline isn't totally understood, but over the last 75 years we’ve lost 97% of flower rich meadows.

“To halt and reverse these alarming declines, we urgently need to restore wild spaces and wildflowers for pollinators. We’re working with a huge range of partner organisations and local communities across Cumbria to do just this, from creating pollinator-friendly verges on Cumbria’s A-roads to handing out thousands of packs of wildflower seeds, training volunteers how to survey for pollinators and running a huge array of community and family planting events across the county.

“Our conference will highlight the amazing projects and communities that are making a noticeable impact on the ground and giving our pollinators a better chance of not just hanging on, but thriving. We’re delighted to be joined by an excellent team of real experts in this field and urge anyone who is concerned about the future of pollinators and how we can help them, to join us in the debates at our conference and to enjoy the weekend fringe events afterwards.”

The conference will be followed by a lively weekend of free fringe events in and around Carlisle on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September, that the whole family can enjoy. They include:

Tullie House Museum, Carlisle - pop-up science café, bee exhibition and film night – visit the Science Café to hear Dr Alex Dittrich of University of Cumbria explain how the former golf course at The Swifts was turned into an urban wildlife haven and Dr Erica McAlister from the Natural History Museum talk about Flies, The Hidden Pollinators. Children have the chance to make mini bee puppets. Evening Celebration of Bumblebees includes the launch of Cumbria’s first bumblebee atlas and the premier of ‘My Garden of 1000 Bees’ by British wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn.

Big Plant at The Swifts Nature Reserve, Carlisle – help plant around 4,000 wildlife-friendly plants to make a difference for bees and other pollinators. Also join in kids’ activities with Faye from Beevive and there will be a bio blitz with Dr Alex Dittrich from the University of Cumbria.

Discover how to get your garden buzzing with wildlife at Gosling Sike, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s base in Houghton, near Carlisle. Visit the wildflower nursery and seedbank, enjoy nature inspired folklore and stories and try your hand at wildlife-themed art and craft activities.

Big Plant at Allonby Green Nature Reserve, Solway AONB – help plant around 2,000 wildlife-friendly plants to make a difference for bees and other pollinators.

For more details of all fringe events, go to

The Big Buzz National Pollinator Conference and Fringe is made possible thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and is the culmination of Get Cumbria Buzzing. 

This ground-breaking, three-year project aims to get community green spaces around north and west Cumbria and road verges on parts of the A66 and A595 buzzing with bees and pollinators, and to increase the communities’ knowledge of pollinating insects.