Over 230 applicants from across Wales applied for free National Garden Centre vouchers as part of Keep Wales Tidy’s ‘Have a Wild Weekend for Wales’ campaign.

Funded by Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and the proceeds from the single use carrier bag charge, the aim of the weekend-long campaign was to encourage people to improve food sources and natural habitat for pollinators in Wales.

Volunteers from St Dogmaels Youth Club and St Dogmaels Herb Garden rolled up their sleeves, got back to nature and gave bees and butterflies a helping hand. They were successful in applying for £150 National Garden Centre vouchers which they then used to buy plants, tools, compost and wood. The project was also kindly supported by Penrallt Garden Centre in Moylegrove and St Dogmaels Community Council.

During their Wild Weekend the volunteers improved the soil and planting of the Community Herb Garden in St Dogmaels, which is opposite the Coach House and adjacent to the Mill Pond, gave the whole area a refresh and created a bee hotel.

Not all bees live in hives. Many bee species nest in tiny spaces ranging from hollow plant stems to holes in deadwood or bare ground. The Bee Hotel created by St Dogmaels Youth Club consists of pallets, hollow tubes, dead leaves, pine cones, drilled logs and masonry as well as plants and even has a roof. It mimics the conditions suitable for bees that nest above ground in stems and holes and provides a suitable habitat for many other insects and animals. The bees and insects that may take up residence in the St Dogmaels Bee Hotel are not dangerous and do not produce a painful sting.

Bee hotels are a great way to boost the population of local pollinators. They also provide a wonderful focal point to observe the activities of bees and other insects. Bees are probably the most important pollinators of crops and other plants. We rely on bees to pollinate at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Worryingly, many bee species are in decline, this is largely because of the loss of feeding and nesting habitats.

Many people think of bees simply as a summertime nuisance, but St Dogmaels Youth Club learned recently that these small and hard-working insects actually make it possible for many of our favourite foods to reach the table. From apples, plums, carrots, almonds and coffee to the ingredients of a pizza, we have bees to thank. Bees are even responsible for pollination of cotton for some of the clothes we wear. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants - including food crops - would die off.

St Dogmaels Youth Club Leader Lisa Head said, “It was great to see volunteers of all ages and for the Youth Club members to get involved in this project. ‘Wild Weekend’ has enabled us to refresh the community herb garden that Jen and her volunteers created some years ago. Staying true to the heritage of the Monks of our Abbey and also increasing the pollen and nectar that’s on offer in the village. Youth Worker Tim Wilcox was helped by our team of Youth Club members to create a fabulous bee hotel for the solitary bees to stay in when they visit. We would love this project to benefit our local environment and wildlife as well as our Community.”

Jen Carrick founder of St Dogmaels Herb Garden said "It is a joy to be involved with Lisa and her youth group members in this 'Wild Weekend' project. The community herb garden has suddenly taken on a much needed lease of life and together with replanting and replenishing is already vibrating with new energy. We are so grateful to Lisa for approaching us and look forward to continuing to provide not only a source of herbs for the community, but also a safe haven for our endangered bees and insects."

Lesley Jones, Chief Executive of Keep Wales Tidy, said: “I am delighted that so many groups across Wales got involved to help our pollinators and their natural environment. They have planted new flowering plants to attract our bees and butterflies as well as giving existing habitats a helping hand. Keep Wales Tidy would like to thank the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales for all their support, ensuring that the ‘Wild Weekend for Wales’ has been a great success for people across Wales!”