Defra targets bee decline

The government has launched an ‘urgent and comprehensive’ review of why bees and other pollinators are in rapid decline across the UK

Speaking at a Bee Summit organised by Friends of the Earth, Lord de Mauley, minister at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, highlighted the need to ‘develop a better understanding of the factors that can harm these insects and the changes that government, other organisations and individuals can make to help’.

‘Pollinators play a vital role in the security of our food supply and the quality of our natural environment’ but a third of all honeybee colonies in England were lost over the winter of 2012-13 according to the British Beekeepers Association.

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‘Changes in land use, the types of crop grown, alien species – these all have an impact’ said Lord de Mauley and ‘the relative importance of these factors and their interactions is not well understood’.

The review will look at current initiatives to help pollinators and along with a series of expert workshops in September will form the basis of a new ‘National Pollinator Strategy’, aimed at a more integrated approach to bees and other insects.

A National Trust report at the weekend pointed out that the numbers of winged insects have suffered after the long, cold spring this year, including bees, moths and butterflies. This could lead to shortages of food for birds and bats, the report warned.

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