Despite the US and the UK resisting, bee campaigners are celebrating the European Union prohibition on the use of systemic pesticides which have been demonstrated to be toxic to bees. A total of 15 of the 27 European member states voted for a 2 year ban on neonicotinoids and 300,000 people in the UK signed a petition to bring in a ban. Most bumblebee species are declining and 6 species have suffered an 80% reduction in numbers in recent years. In the past 100 years, 20 British bee species have become extinct and 35 British bees are currently at risk of extinction. This is due to several factors, not just the chemicals which reduce their immune system capabilities, but loss of habitat plays a large role as does the removal of honey from hives and replacing it with sugar water which provides none of the valuable nutrients for bees throughout the winter, and does not provide the antibacterial that is needed for them to fight diseases. With 98% of wild flower meadows vanishing since 1950, we need to plant flowers that will help bees to thrive. They play a crucial role in plant pollination.
Bee colonies work together to survive, we know many things about them but they also have many secrets.
In a recent book 'A Sting in the Tale' by Prof Dave Goulson, other bee species are set to die also. "Bees pollinate three quarters of the world's crops, without bees, crops would need to be artificially pollinated, which would cause a huge increase in the price of the production of food. Bees are thought to provide £440 million pounds of work in the UK, and £130 worldwide, out of 100 of the world's most common crops which providre 90% of food for 146 countries, 71 are pollinated by bees and 75% of all crops require bees for their pollination. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron is life patron of the Oxfordshire Bee Keepers Association. Many in the UK are concerned that a ban will affect the income of the agrochemical industry and create a return to older and more toxic chemicals but Waitrose, Co-operative, Wickes and B & Q have removed neonicotinoids fropm their supply chains and from their shelves.
The Soil Association are the UK's largest membership campaigning charity for healthy, humane and sustainable food production: Visit for further information about what you can do to create healthy food and help save this extraordinary species that we cannot live without: http://www.soilassociation.org/
All actions have consequences and we must ensure that actions which are taken to produce beneficial effects do not have unforeseen or disasterous consequences. If a chemical is introduced, a thoroughly investigation needs to take place whether it is harmful to the health of insects, animals and humans. I find it extraordinary that people in positions of responsibility and power can overlook such imperative consequences. If money is involved, as it is in the agrochemical industries, we must ensure our politicians have integrity and sufficient foresight to address any exploitation and corruption. Human being are the only species that can say when we are in pain and we should not overlook the plight of all species that share this finite planet with us and have just as much right to be here.
Fascinating information about bees from Wikipedia: From Wikipedia: In New Zealand scientists discovered that three genera of native bees have evolved to open flower buds of the native mistletoe Peraxilla tetrapetala. The buds cannot open themselves but are visited by birds such as the tui and bellbird which twist the top of the ripe bud. That action releases a mechanism which causes the petals to suddenly spring open, giving access to the nectar and pollen. However, when observing the native bees in the Canterbury province in the South Island, the scientists were astonished to see the bees biting the top off the buds, then pushing with their legs, occasionally popping open the buds to allow the bees to harvest the nectar and pollen, and therefore aid in the pollination of the mistletoe which is in decline in New Zealand. Nowhere else in the world have bees demonstrated ability to open explosive bird-adapted flowers.
With 50,000 to 60,000 beekeepers in the UK, most are part-timers! A third of British hives did not survive our recent bad winter (2012-13). Some beekeepers in Scotland lost 75% of their bee colonies.
If you see a bee or wasp indoors - open all doors and windows - they want to be free and usually leave within a few minutes. If you want to help (they can get very exhausted quickly), whilst being careful not to damage legs or wings, insert a piece of paper under an upturned glass and remove it to the safety of a cool place in the undergrowth.
Article by Wendy Stokes