BEES IN DECLINE
2017: Two important steps have been made in the fight to rid gardens and countryside of damaging neonicotinoid insecticides.
- On April 25th, the DEFRA Minister of State refused to sanction the use of insecticides which include neonicotinoids. Earlier this year the NFU had made an application to use banned neonicotinoids on oil rape seed crops on behalf of farmers whose crops were threatened by the cabbage stem flea beetle but the Minister ruled that the threat was only "moderate" and did not warrant an emergency exception to the ban.
- B&Q has become the first in the UK to announce a ban on the sale of plants grown using neonicotinoids - from February 2018.
Other articles on neonicotinoid ban: click the links below
One in every three bites of food we eat is dependent on honey bees for pollination.
The UK apple industry is particularly dependent on pollinators, as they add £37m a year to the value of just two varieties of British apples, Gala and Cox.
The UK has lost 97% of its flower-rich grassland since the 1930s. As bees rely entirely upon flowers for food, it is not surprising that their populations began to rapidly decline in most places.
The result of this has been that two species have become extinct in the UK since the start of the 21st century:
- Cullem’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus), was last recorded in 1941.
- Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) - this was last recorded in 1988.
Percentage supply of honey bees relative to demand (Europe). Grey area = statistics not available
Research in March 2013 strongly linked pesticides to the serious decline in honey bee numbers in the UK and US - a drop of around 50% in the last 25 years: it was discovered that bees consuming one pesticide can suffer an 85% loss in the number of queens their nests produced, while another study showed a doubling in "disappeared" bees – those that failed to return from food foraging trips.
In April 2013, the European Commission "partially and temporarily restricted" the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides ( thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid) on crops attractive to honeybees. The restriction became effective from 1st December 2013. The total number of votes from Member States was as follows: 15 countries voted in favour, 8 voted against (including UK) and 4 abstained.
The restriction was due to be lifted in December 2015. However, in July 2015 the Government agreed to the lifting of the ban.
To find out more, click on these links:
➛ UK suspends ban on pesticides linked to serious harm in bees http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/23/eu-suspends-ban-pesticides-linked-serious-harm-bees
➛ Germany tightens, UK relaxes neonicotinoid regulation
Original BBC article dated 29th April 2013
➛ A link to Defra's "Consultation on improving bee health: proposed changes to managing and controlling pests and diseases - Summary of responses July 2013" (17 pages) can be found at the foot of this page.
Honeybees are active from late winter to autumn. The link below gives a list of bee-friendly plants in flower during that period.
☆Please click on the links below if you would like to read some historical background about the threat to wild bees:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25656283 (January 2014)
☆There are many websites offering advice to anyone who wants to help: e.g.