Busy Bees – Declining bee populations

Busy Bees – Declining bee populations

Article by Gofarmer

Defra has announced major new funding into the protection and rejuvenation of the bee population. The joint project will mean that £10 Million will be made available, seemingly for research, and is a initiative between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Wellcome Trust and the Scottish Government. It was announced in January that Defra would be putting £2 Million into research of this type, but now in collaboration with all these organizations, that amount has increased by £8 Million.

Funding will be made available across the UK to researchers, and will be administered through the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership. This is seen as vital action to increase the understanding of why the numbers of bees has dwindled, and how we are best placed to correct this trend, and thus revive the bee community. Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said “Aristotle identified bees as the most hard working of insects, and with one in three mouthfuls coming from insect-pollinated crops, we need to support bees and other pollinators. This funding will give some of Britain’s world-class researchers the chance to identify the causes of the decline we’re seeing in bee numbers, and that will help us to take the right action to help.”

Bees are vital to the pollination of many crops, and the impact of the decline in their UK colonies has been such than many fear a continuation at this rate will bring very serious consequences to UK farming and food production and supply within the country. The British Beekeepers’ Association has been working for the last year on raising awareness of this issue, setting up their own ‘Save Our Bees Campaign’ within that process. Tim Lovett, the President of the BBKA has welcomed this latest announcement. “This news is most welcome and represents a victory for the campaign that the British Beekeepers have undertaken during the last 12 months. It is vital that these funds are committed to the work that can make a real difference and meet the challenges facing honey bees.”

Awareness of this issue is expected to get greater as the season for witnessing bees do their work gets going. The BBC will also be highlighting this issue, in a series of programmes that are exploring and explaining how food gets from the fields to our kitchen tables. One of the shows will be highlighting how the changing weather, warmer winters and wetter summers, is effecting bees, and how vital it is that we understand this process and do what we can to adjust it, and where possible make changes that will reverse this action.

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