The Bee. Humble, but crucial. Their survival ensures ours.
We can all picture the sight of bees buzzing around, dancing from flower to flower, on a warm summers’ day. But if you think you notice less today than you did running around your garden as a kid, then it’s not just your imagination.
UK bee populations are declining at an alarming rate, with the UK saying goodbye to 13 species of bee over the past twenty years, with a further 35 (around 10%!) under threat of imminent extinction unless serious action is taken.
The ongoing shrinkage of these populations is majorly due to increased use of bee-harming pesticides and insecticides, as well as loss of bee-friendly habitats. Extensive crop farming has intensified all over the world in the last century, with pesticides playing a key role in its acceleration.
This January, the British government took an environmentally regressive step, reauthorising use of a pesticide fatal to bees. This came about despite an EU-wide ban in 2018 and an explicit government promise to maintain the restrictions.
Following petition from British Sugar and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), a product containing neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was authorised for emergency use on sugar beet seeds, due to the recent threat posed by beet yellow virus. The consent prompted outcry from conservationists and the public alike, as the government failed to outline how the move would avoid destroying wildflowers, polluting rivers and contributing to ever-declining bee numbers.
The chemical, structurally similar to nicotine, attacks the central nervous system of bees and other pollinators, causing paralysis that leads to their eventual death.
But why are bees so important? Is it just something proclaimed by honey manufacturers to sell you their products? Or by beekeepers for job certainty? In fact, bees are vital for survival of the entire human race.
The dangers of environmental upheaval of bee populations were summarised perfectly by Albert Einstein: ‘If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man’.
Pollinators are necessary for human food security, with our little airborne friends responsible for bringing us one third of all the food we consume. They also preserve our ecosystems and aid production of natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Continue the Conversation…
Readers may also leave us a review on our Google Front Page
The Mackayan is part of the Houghton & Mackay organisation.
By Anna Alford: arts columnist.
…a product containing neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was authorised for emergency use…
These animals hover from plant to plant, transferring pollen on their bodies in an essential interaction that enables transfer of genetic material to plants responsible for bringing us countless fruits, vegetables and nuts, and half of the world’s oils and raw materials. The process also promotes increased carbon sequestration, the process of capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, and prevents soil erosion. Ever pondered the origin of the phrase ‘busy bee’? It is estimated that a single bee can perform this interaction on over 5000 flowers a day!
It is not only the food supply for humans that would be in peril without bees. Crops that act as shelter or food for species lower down the food chain would also fade away, leading to complete ecosystem collapse.
Thankfully, there are some simple steps we can take to save our local bee populations.
There are some severe gaps in current bee research, with the status of the species mostly unknown. Donate to support the scientists on a mission to saving British bees to help fill these blanks today! The more we know, the more we can help.
Plant the right plants
Planting wildflowers in your garden is easy – the internet has thousands of well-compiled planting guides to help you select the right plant for the right spot. You can get wildflower seeds for free from places like Just Bee and other organisations dedicated to conservation. Keep your garden as bee friendly as possible by avoiding use of chemicals and weedkillers when planting.
Get in contact with your local council to push planting of wildflowers on motorways, schools, corporate landscapes and public spaces too!
Support farmers by sourcing organic fruit and veg locally. Do the same for beekeepers by buying your honey local as well!
Don’t stop there
Continue spreading the word about the importance of pollinators. If everyone – us, local and national governments, and private industry – all made an effort, we could change the future for pollinators, and help secure our own.
MACKAYAN: bye, bye. Bee friendly britain.Tweet