THREE GP practices will be creating healthy havens for bees and other insects as part of a 'pioneering' scheme.

The Bee Healthy Project will provide specially-chosen flowering plants and expert advice to St Bartholomew's Medical Centre in East Oxford, Summertown Health Centre in Oxford and the Windrush Medical Practice in Witney.

The initiative, run by the Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment (TOE) partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Wild Oxfordshire, follows a successful earlier project at Chipping Norton Health Centre.

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Katherine Blaze, operations manager at Summertown Health Centre, revealed patients would help with planting and the surgery would install ‘bee hotels’ – breeding places for cavity-nesting solitary bees.

She added: "We wanted to get involved because we are very conscious of bees and want to do all we can to support them. We have a little garden at the front and thought it would be a great opportunity.”

Volunteers at the surgeries are preparing the ground this summer, before planting takes place in the autumn. The schemes will have around 15 plant species overall.

At the Windrush, the project will include three different borders, while the surgery has already created a wildflower area.

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In Chipping Norton, all eight bumblebee species commonly found in Oxfordshire now visit the site and some patients have been inspired to create similar areas in their gardens.

Bumblebee populations have suffered long-term decline due to modern farming methods, but homeowners in towns and cities can used their gardens to help to sustain their numbers.

Craig Blackwell and Roselle Chapman, the project’s ecologists, say gardeners can support bees and other insect pollinators by choosing plans that are high in nectar and pollen, and planting combinations that will flower from March through to October.