In 2009, the following proposed resolution from Wiltshire Federation was voted upon at the WI National AGM:
“Honey Bees play a vital role in the pollination of food crops and in our environment. In view of concerns about the accelerating decline in the UK honey bee population, this meeting urges HM Government to increase funding for research into Bee Health.”
The WI passed this resolution and it has now become the SOS for Honeybees campaign. Significant work has been done since 2009 to increase research funding for Bee Health. However, there is still more that can be done!
Bee health is an area of interest for Sotonettes WI members so we have been doing some things ourselves to help save the British Bee:
At our February 2016 meeting, Allan Warren spoke to us about bees, beekeeping, the current threats to bees and his involvement in setting up an apiary at a local school. Bee keepers are often looking for places to keep bees; if you are interested or know a local site that may be suitable for a bee hive please contact your local beekeepers society as they may be able to help. It was by contacting local schools and other land owners that Allan started his apiary at the local school in Porchester and now bees help in lessons – some involve just learning about bees but others help with more complex maths problems!
One way in which you can help save the bee is to includes plants in your garden or local area that will encourage bees. We have found some good information from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) campaign Perfect for Pollinators. If you do not want to grow specific plants in your garden, most local garden centres and DIY stores will have good selection of mixed seeds that will encourage bees into your garden.
One of the biggest threats to bees is pesticides. Different pesticides work in different ways: some kill the bees before they return to the hive whilst others, neonicotinoids, are coated on the seeds so they become integral to the plant. The neonicotinoids are incorporated into the nectar and do not kill the bee quickly. This means that the nectar is returned to the hive and slowly weakens the whole colony by passing the pesticide into new bees. In 2015, the EU banned the use of neonicotinoids, including the UK. However, in June 2015, the UK allowed a number of farmers to use the pesticide on rape seed crops as an emergency measure. The government were petitioned on this change and provided a detailed response noting that it was a time-limited measure. If it is used again and new petitions are created we will provide details to our members. The British Beekeeping Association also has a booklet on Honey Bees and Pesticides giving advice on how to reduce the risk to bees if you do use pesticides.