RAIL stations across Essex will be supporting fragile bee populations with a new community rail project.

The programme, which is the joint effort of the Bee Friendly Trust and the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, saw more than 50 wildlife friendly sculptures and planters placed across the country, a quarter of which are on the Greater Anglia network.

Alresford, Althorne, Bures, Clacton, Colchester, Great Bentley, Kirby Cross, Mistley, South Woodham Ferrers and Witham are some of the Essex towns and villages that will be supporting the bee conservation campaign.

Wooden planters filled with a variety of herbs have been placed on the stations’ platforms in Colchester, Great Bentley, Sudbury, Witham, South Woodham Ferrers and Althorne.

Two large wildflower planters will also provide a haven for pollinating insects at Bures.

Gazette: The Bee Friendly sculpture at Alresford station Photo: Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail PartnershipThe Bee Friendly sculpture at Alresford station Photo: Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership

Once the herb gardens have been set up residents will be welcome to help themselves to fresh herbs or enjoy their scent as they wait for trains.

Dr Luke Dixon, co-founder of the Bee Friendly Trust, said: "Honey bees can fly up to three miles from the hive when out foraging for pollen and nectar, but in areas that are densely populated or over-farmed they sometimes struggle to find enough food.

"That’s why we’re working with railway authorities, community rail partnerships, and local groups across the UK to install bee-friendly flowering planters, fruit tree orchards and micro wildlife gardens on railway station platforms."

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s customer and community engagement manager, said:"The herb gardens and wildflower planters are a wonderful addition to these stations and will help to make them more attractive and welcome to passengers and provide a boost for wildlife too.

"We’re very grateful to everyone involved in helping to make these stations more sustainable and welcoming.”

A recent survey by Greater Anglia showed that more than 200 different species visit the stations, including butterflies, bees, slow worms, bats, foxes and birds.