Opus at Cornwall Street takes sustainability seriously and loves sharing that passion with customers. Director Ann Tonks believes that her restaurants have a huge role to play; not only to serve superbly sourced food, but also to engage their loyal following and the wider public in conversations about food matters.
So, in the latest Opus in Conversation event, last month, there was a real buzz as dozens of enthusiasts descended on the Birmingham city centre restaurant to hear from bee experts to discover why these crucial creatures are in danger and what can be done to save them.
The panel, chaired by BBC Midlands Today Science, Environment and Rural Affairs Correspondent Dr David Gregory-Kumar, included Sharif Kahn, President of Birmingham & District Beekeepers Association (BDBKA), Professor Keith Walters, specialist in invertebrates and researcher into neonicotinoids at Harper Adams University and University College London and Simon Needle, Ecologist, Woodland and Conservation Manager at Birmingham City Council.
The UK has lost 20 species of bees with a further 35 currently considered under threat of extinction. Without these intriguing insects, it is estimated that a third of our diet would be lost due to the catastrophic effect it would have on crops and would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion a year to pollinate their produce without them
As well as neonicotinoid use, the experts reported that climate change was a factor in the depletion of the population, as well as pressure for more parking spaces and to keep public green spaces neat and tidy – reducing the opportunity for bees to forage.
Panelist Sharif Khan, said: “Can we become a nation of beekeepers? Yes, I believe that we can. Whilst we don’t all have to tend to them in the traditional beekeeper sense, what we can do is provide habitats.”
Speaking after the event, Ann Tonks said: “Bees are in serious danger at the moment and yet, we don’t feel enough people are aware of how quickly their numbers are declining. That’s why we’ve taken action and hosted an evening of conversation dedicated to them, to get the people of Birmingham talking and saving our bees.”
And Ann’s passion for spreading knowledge like a delicious honey, extends to her staff too. Earlier this year, she took a number of the Opus team on a visit to idyllic fields of Leicestershire to visit David, The Bee Farmer to gain some knowledge about the all-important honey bee, where among other fascinating facts, they learned that only 10% of eggs are male and the Queen bee can live for 3 to 4 years.