North Shropshire’s bees are set for a brighter future thanks to money raised from Shropshire Council’s new countryside membership scheme.

The Shropshire Great Outdoors scheme was launched in December 2016 with around 50 people joining.

Membership fees are put towards the maintenance of the unitary authority’s countryside parks and sites, and now the £1,300 raised in the first year of the scheme is to be used to improve and enhance the Bee Metropolis that sits alongside The Mere at Ellesmere and provides a home to solitary bees and other invertebrates.

The planned work includes enhanced wildflower beds and new information boards showing types of British bees and the food plants they require to survive.

It will be carried out in early summer 2018, and the start of work will be marked with a special bee-themed day of events and activities at the site, including a bee safari run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Shaun Burkey, country parks and sites officer with Shropshire Council, said: “The Bee Metropolis was created for our bees which, as we know, are suffering terribly due to a number of factors including pesticides and a lack of nectar-rich flowering plants. When three beech trees became diseased and had to be felled we decided to create the Bee Metropolis. Deadwood is great for insects providing food for birds and mammals. Hundreds of holes have also been drilled into the deadwood, and these are used by solitary bees as nest chambers.

“Nectar-rich cornfield flower-beds have been planted around the Bee Metropolis and we hope visitors will be inspired to plant bee-friendly plants in their gardens to give our bees a chance for their and our futures.”

Meanwhile, the Shropshire’s Great Outdoors scheme has been developed for its second year to appeal to a greater range of people, and the list of member benefits has also been revised and improved.

The scheme now offers joint and family membership, in addition to the existing individual membership.

As well as free parking at Shropshire Council’s countryside sites, members of the scheme can now benefit from discounts at The Boathouse in Ellesmere, and The Severn Valley County Park café, and on room bookings at the Warden’s Bungalow in Ellesmere, plus further discounts at tourist destinations and businesses.

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “We’re really pleased with the response the scheme has had in its first year, but we want the scheme to appeal to a greater and wider range of people so I’m delighted that we can now offer joint and family memberships, and that we can offer a greater and more attractive range of discounts and benefits to members.

“The more people that join, the more money we will raise to help manage and develop our valuable countryside sites and parks – so if people sign up both they and our sites really will benefit.”