Bees pollinate a third of the food we eat. They are essential for farming and if we wanted to do the pollinating work ourselves – it would take a workforce of 30 million. And that’s just for food – bees also pollinate most wildflowers.
In the United States over a million hives have been lost since 2006 due to Colony Collapse Disorder – a very mysterious condition. Apparently, we don’t have it in the UK yet – but even so, 2008 was the worst year for bees in the UK – with up to 30% of hives not surviving the winter.
I can’t begin to imagine a world without bees. Or some of this stuff:
Alfalfa, Allspice, Almonds, Apples, Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cacao, Cantaloupe, Caraway, Cardamom, Carrots, Cashew, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Cherries, Chicory, Chives, Cinnamon, Citrus, Coriander, Cranberries, Cucumbers, Currants, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Gooseberries, Kale, Leek, Macadamia, Mango, Mustard, Nutmeg, Onion, Parsley, Parsnip, Passion fruit, Peaches, Pears, Plum, Pumpkin, Radish, Raspberries, Squash, Sunflower, Tangerine, Tea, and Watermelon to name a few. Not forgetting honey and beeswax of course.
There are things we can do – the Co-op has taken the initiative and set up a campaign called Plan Bee, along with a website that provides lots more information, and a couple of videos if you prefer to watch than read. (hopefully they will enable embedding at some point)
I applaud what they are doing, and attempting to do, and strongly encourage everyone to see what they can do to give the bees a hand whenever I can, so I thought I would take this opportunity too
Through Plan Bee:
1. The Co-operative Food will temporarily prohibit the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides on own-brand fresh produce. These are Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Fipronil, Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram, Thiacloprid and Thiamethoxam. To find out about The
Co-operative’s market-leading policy on pesticides, please see our latest Sustainability Report (p.95).
2. £150,000 will be made available to support research into the demise of the honeybee, with a particular focus on UK farming, pesticides and gene-diversity. This is the largest ever private contribution to bee research in the UK.
3. Over three years The Co-operative Farms will trial a new wildflower seed mix that will be planted alongside crops on our farms across the UK.
4. The Co-operative Farms will invite beekeepers to establish hives on all our farms in the UK.
5. The Co-operative will engage our three-million members in a campaign to protect and nurture the bee population in the UK, with advice and tips featuring on our website.
6. Members were invited to attend one of 40 screenings of a special preview from a forthcoming film that addresses the decline of the worldwide bee population and the significance of the bee in food production. In addition, The Co-operative has also commissioned a new bespoke documentary on the decline of the bee population in the UK.
7. The Co-operative will partner with RSPB’s ‘Homes for Wildlife’ team and empower members to garden in ways that are honeybee-friendly.
8. An initial 20,000 packets of wildflower seed mix will be distributed to members free of charge at membership events throughout the UK.
9. Bee boxes are being sourced and made available to The Co-operative members at discounted prices. Find out how to get hold of a discounted bee box.
10. The Co-operative will support our members and colleagues to find out more about amateur beekeeping and will encourage links between local beekeepers and members. Find details of your nearest beekeeping association.
Also – there is a documentary worth watching called “Who Killed the Honey Bee” showing on BBC4 starting on Thu 23 Apr 2009 at 21:00, with repeat showings. It will also be available on iPlayer.