Co-operative 'Bee Road' plans to boost insect habitats
A nationwide network of "bee roads" will be planted to provide corridors of wildflowers for insects if landowners support a scheme launched on Tuesday.
The project will provide a new habitat for bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths.
The first so-called "bee roads" will be created in Yorkshire with the help of £60,000 donated by the Co-operative.
The project envisages two corridors of wildflowers stretching north to south and east to west across Yorkshire.
Land will be seeded with species such as lesser knapweed, field scabious, birdsfoot trefoil and red clover.'Alarming' loss
The pilot area would restore a total of five hectares (12 acres) of land. It is then hoped the initiative will be emulated in other counties.
Specific locations have not yet been identified as the scheme's organisers are waiting for landowners to come forward.
Paul Monaghan, head of social goals at the Co-operative, said: "The UK has lost an alarming 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s and this has had a major impact on pollinator numbers.
"The number of honeybees in the UK has halved in the last 25 years, and three-quarters of butterfly species and two-thirds of moths have seen population declines since the 1970s.
"By setting up these 'bee roads', we hope to make life easier for all pollinators and reverse their alarming decline."
Loss of wildflower meadows and the nectar-rich flowers which provide food for pollinating insects are thought to be one of the major reasons for declines in bees.
Last June, supermarket chain Sainsburys announced it was setting up man-made habitats known as "bee hotels" at 38 stores across London in a bid to boost the dwindling population of solitary bees.