The Bee Cause is Friends of the Earths’ campaign to save the bee. Bees are in trouble, in the UK and across the globe. In the UK 2 bumblebee species are extinct. The health of honeybee colonies is deteriorating and wild honeybees are extinct in some areas. The reasons are complicated but various factors may be involved including: the spread of monoculture crops and loss of diversity of flowers available across the seasons; loss of hedgerows which act as corridors to enable bees to move between feeding and nest sites; use of chemicals, including neonicotinoid-based insecticides; pests and diseases; and climate change which means that bees may emerge from hibernation before there is enough food available.
A national bee action plan is needed to reverse the decline of bees in the UK, according to a new report from the University of Reading. The report highlights the impact that loss of bees would have on the economy: pollinating crops artificially would cost farmers in the UK over £1.8 billion a year.
Locally, Hackney and Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth are encouraging local residents and organisations to help bees by sowing and planting flowers and shrubs that attract bees; letting flower-rich grass grow long, avoiding the use of chemicals in gardens, and not paving their gardens over; and signing Friends of the Earths’ petition for a national bee action plan. A ‘bee walk’ from Tower Hamlets Cemetery to Victoria Park on 8th July was attended by 16 local residents, and representatives of local groups as well as the Tower Hamlets Biodiversity Officer. Participants looked at habitats that are both good and bad for bees and everyone went away full of ideas and enthusiasm for helping bees.
Tower Hamlets residents can help bees by finding a corner of their garden, school, estate or even a window box to plant the free wildflower seeds available from the Council.
Photo: Buff-tailed Bumblebee on verbena by Amelia Collins