FoE report shows why we need a National Action Plan to save British bees

Friend of the Earth has published new research into the decline of bees in England. The project, carried out the University of Reading, shows that the use of pesticides increased by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010. Pesticides are a factor in the recent decline in British bee populations.

The report shows an increase in insecticides that tend to be used on crops pollinated by bees - increasing the risk to them. And it shows that the use of herbicides can destroy important sources of food for bees.

The report's findings also reveal that the loss of lowland meadows and hedges and the destruction of local wildlife sites have removed vital sources of food and nesting sites for bees.

Bees are critical to Britain's food supply and economy, but numbers of some species have fallen dramatically in recent years. The report found that two British bumblebee species have become extinct, solitary bees have declined in over half the areas they were studied in and managed honey bee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005.

Research released last month by Friends of the Earth revealed it would cost the UK an extra £1.8billion every year to hand pollinate crops without bees.

Friends of the Earth is calling on David Cameron to produce a National Bee Action Plan to tackle bee decline. It says the PM should suspend those pesticides linked to bee deaths, make changes to the way impacts on bee health are assessed, and include targets for reducing use of pesticides.

Additionally, farmers need more support to ensure a bee-friendly countryside, planning policy must be strengthened to protect bee habitats and there needs to be a new focus on supporting bee species other than managed honeybees.

More info
The report, 'The Decline of England's Bees' was carried out by leading bee experts at the University of Reading as part of the environment charity's latest campaign, The Bee Cause.

Download the report here - www.foe.co.uk/beesreport or you can read FoE’s summary here www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/bees_report_briefing.pdf

The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees, and calls upon the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit www.foe.co.uk/bees .

In March 2012 the journal Science published research by the University of Stirling which found an 85% rise in deaths of Queen bumblebees when subject to the neonicotinoid pesticide Imidacloprid. Although use of imidacloprid has declined the use of other neonicotinoids such as Thiamethoxam and Clothaianidin have increased substantially (FERA, 2012).

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