Yorkshire farming could be seriously at risk without urgent Government action to protect the bee population, according to research launched today by Friends of the Earth as it unveils a new campaign to save the bee.
Bees pollinate around £31.8 million worth of total crop sales in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber, according to research conducted by leading bee experts at the University of Reading to mark the launch of The Bee Cause.
The environment charity revealed the figure as it unveils new statistics showing that it would cost the UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees – 20 per cent more than previously thought – equivalent to the annual wages of 60,000 teachers.
In recent years Britain has lost over half the honey bees kept in managed hives and wild honey bees are nearly extinct. Solitary bees are declining in more than half the areas they’ve been studied.
The number of managed honeybee colonies in the UK fell by 53 per cent between 1985 and 2005 and wild honeybees are nearly extinct. Solitary bee diversity has declined in 52 per cent of UK landscapes. The Bumble Bee is now extinct in the whole of the East Midlands.
Friends of the Earth is urging David Cameron to save these important pollinators and save the nation billions by committing to a British bee action plan. The plan outlines action on the planning of our towns, the way we farm and use pesticides and funding for nature experts in the Government to ensure vital bee populations are restored.
The charity is also providing information and resources on how people in the Yorkshire can help bees in their gardens and communities, including giving away 20,000 packets of wildflower seeds.
To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit www.foe.co.uk/bees.
Simon Bowens, Yorkshire regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “Unless we halt the decline in British bees, farmers in our region will have to rely on hand-pollination, sending food prices rocketing.
“David Cameron must make changes needed now to give our bees a fighting chance and save billions.”