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Bio diversity is buzzing at Denver!

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An Environment Agency officer in a bee keeping suit holding a section of his bee hive.
Ben Di Giulio with his bees at the Denver complex.

By Ben Di Giulio, a floods and coastal risk management officer for Norfolk.

I'm in the very fortunate position to say I thoroughly enjoy my job and get great satisfaction from it. I'm a Floods and Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) officer co-managing the Environment Agency’s flagship flood defence the Denver complex in west Norfolk.

A big part of managing the Denver complex is the amount of land it physically takes up which is in the hundreds of acres. At the heart of everything I do is biodiversity and how we can continually educate ourselves to do more and be better.

Our most recent addition to the complex is bee hives. Around two years ago I began to develop a deep interest in bees and their decline. After quite a bit of research I noted we had the opportunity at Denver to really help the bee population; it was just a case of figuring out what we could incorporate to do more.

Firstly, we successfully secured some funding to purchase and install some on-site bee habitats. These mimic a hollowed out tree and provide a safe and ideal environment for a colony of native bees to become established undisturbed.

Once they arrived I was keen to learn even more, gaining knowledge and working towards the goal of ultimately becoming a beekeeper. This was finally realised a few months back when I established the knowledge and confidence to build my first National beehive and transfer a colony of Norfolk bees into it. Coming from a farming background, I’m quite used to the husbandry involved with keeping various livestock. However, I can honestly say there’s nothing even close to the experience of keeping bees. It’s quite involved, complex and there’s a lot of science to it, but it’s an extremely rewarding process.

So far, I can take great satisfaction in reporting that the bees are growing and doubling each week. The queen is laying lots of eggs, it’s a healthy colony and I’ve increased the complex bee population by around 3,000 bees.

We also have a booming bat population and thanks to our hard work closely monitoring invasive species, native water birds have made a huge comeback to the area. We now have nesting Great Crested Grebes once more, nesting swans, Moorhens, coots and even the odd bittern.

Every day I’m learning and trying to do more, looking for opportunities to help the Denver complex be a flagship for the Environment Agency, in terms of increased habitat and biodiversity.

I’d really like to take this opportunity to give a big thanks to my line manager, Rupert Wilson, who without his encouragement and support towards my ideas none of this would have been possible.

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