The recent news that the European Union has agreed to a ban on the use of neonicotinoids, the bee-harming pesticides, is good news for bees and for bee farmers like me. The announcement, approved by member nations on Friday, is likely to come into force by the end of 2018 and means that bee-harming pesticides can only be used in EU member countries within closed greenhouses. The announcement follows on from Michael Gove’s policy reversal on the issue in the UK at the end of last year, after reviewing scientific evidence that made the case for their ban more compelling.
It is said that Gove was particularly struck by the results of a 2017 study of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany, which showed they had declined by 75% in just 25 years. A shocking statistic and although the cause was unclear, the destruction of wild and natural habitats alongside the widespread use of pesticides appear to be the most likely factors.
As an ethical bee farmer committed to biodiversity, I work hard to create an environment on my own farm, with the needs of bees in mind, providing them with the forage they need to survive. I only take excess honey from our bees because I understand the importance they have in helping to keep our food chain healthy. I have seen first hand how fragile the bee population is, so in an attempt to help reverse the decline, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help improve the honeybee population across the UK. It is my aim to get sponsorship for 250 hives to be installed over the next five years that will help to build up the population to more sustainable levels. Sustainability is at the heart of everything our organic farm does - we are licensed by the Soil Association and are collaborating with local land-owners to plant organic, bee-friendly flower seeds.
It is in the interests of all gardeners and land owners to create an environment where wildlife of all kinds can thrive. Farmers need to continue to be encouraged and supported to farm with biodiversity in mind and anybody with a little bit of land can play their part in planting flowers and grasses that encourage bees and insects to feed, breed and multiply. If we continue on the path we are currently on, the world in just ten years time may be a very different place.
It is my hope that we are not too late to halt the terminal decline of the honeybee. We must all keep the pressure up on the UK Government post-Brexit and urge them to continue to back biodiverse farming practices and focus on farming with the next generation in mind; critical to our health, nutrition, well-being and environmental impact.
To find out more about our crowdfunding initiative visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/honeybee-hive-adoption-restaurant-community#/