|Bee Sculpture at Eden Project, Cornwall, UK|
(A great place to learn about the biodiversity of our amazing planet)
Please note, this article is relevant mostly to Europe (including the UK). Posts about bees in other countries will follow.
On the 8th June 2012, Farmers Weekly published an article by Philip Case - France to ban Syngenta pesticide linked to bee decline. In this, Case informs us that France is about to ban a pesticide that is used to treat oilseed rape. The effects of this pesticide appear to be pretty devastating to the bee. Case reports
“The plan to ban Cruiser follows two studies earlier this year, in the UK and France, which found evidence that neonicotinoids contain chemicals that disorientate bees and prevent them from finding their way back to hives, causing colony collapse disorder”
Previously on the 3rd June 2012, another article in the Farmers Weekly - Banning Pesticides Will Not Reverse Bee Decline again by Case, reveals that Dominic Dyer, Chief Executive of Crop Protection Association appears to have evidence to the contrary. Dyer suggests that:
"Most experts agree that the decline in bee populations is down to the Varroa mite and other parasitic diseases, combined with the problems associated with habitat loss, colony stress and climate change,”
It is clear then, that the argument within the scientific world, soldiers on, as do our bees. The views all appear to be valid, yet there is still not a definitive answer as to what needs to be done.
The scientist will undoubtedly carry on debating over the reasons surrounding the demise of these wonderful little creatures. In the meantime, here are some things you can be doing that they do all agree on:
· Stop using pesticides. You will be surprised how quickly the hoverflies, ladybirds and other predatory creatures take over, once the chemicals are gone. If you need help to stop using pesticides, please go to Garden Organic, the UK’s leading organic growing charity (formerly the Henry Doubleday Society).
· Grow a wide variety of plants that will attract the bees. Please see the beekind tool at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and just follow the simple instructions
· Help a bee in distress. If you find a bee lethargic, still, or in an unusual place, then offer it a small amount of sugar and water mix. This will give it a boost and help it to go on its way.
· Provide a good habitat for bees. Leave some areas of your garden/land messy. Let grass grow tall and see just how many wildflowers appear in it. Just a small strip of grass can accommodate a wide variety of wild flowers over time. Better still - create a wild meadow area. You could also make a bee house or cafe, to give them security in your garden.
· Let some of your herbs and vegetables flower. Rosemary, chives and thyme, marjoram/oregano, are just a few that bees love.
· Lobby your local MP to pull out all the stops, and make sure you sign every petition you can.
· Consider being a beekeeper, or if not, support your local beekeepers by asking them what you can do to help. This could be buying their honey or making donations to help fund the hives. For more information on keeping bees go to The British Beekeepers Association
· Keep a diary of the bees you see and if you see any nests. Let any of these organisation know if you see anything unusual.
What are your views on this subject? Are you a beekeeper? Do you try to grow plants that attract bees? Please comment.