In the UK, bees contribute largely to food production as they pollinate major commercial crops and trees as well as produce honey; a staple for breakfast in many homes. According to a study by researchers at the University of Reading, Bees contribute £651 million annually to the UK economy.
However, the bee population is declining at an alarming rate; they are reports of some species already becoming extinct. The reason for this decline has been attributed to massive changes to bee natural habitat (as large scale cropping replace wildflower meadows), spraying of pesticides on crops, and attacks by the Varroa mite parasite.
Pesticides sprayed by farmers to control crop pest constitute harmful chemicals for bees. Bees are unfortunately and unintentionally affected when they come in contact with sprayed crops or spray drifted by wind to neighbouring bee hives. To address this problem, farmers have been banned from using pesticides like the Neonicotinoid pesticides known for its toxicity to bees.
More recently, a new website BeeConnected (https://www.beeconnected.org.uk/) was launched.
Farmers and beekeepers have been urged to register on this website. Farmers will enter details of their spraying plan such as: when and where they will be spraying pesticides, the crop being sprayed and the chemical composition of the spray. Beekeepers nearby (at a close range of up to 5km) will be notified of these details and he or she can protect their bees by moving their hives to a further location or keeping the bees temporarily shut in.
Although no pesticide use would be the best option, this is a positive step in maintaining bee numbers.
BeeConnected is setup by the voluntary initiative, the British Beekeepers Association, the National Farmers Union and the Crop Protection Association.
Harwood V (Producer). (2016, September 13). Farming today (Audio podcast). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes.
The British Beekeepers Association (2016) BeeConnected goes live across the UK. Retrieved from https://www.bbka.org.uk.
Vittorio H (2015) Bees have higher contribution to British economy than Buckingham palace occupants. Retrieved from https://www.ibtimes.com.au