Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bee Event in Norwich - 27th June 2012

Leading gardeners, campaigners and beekeepers speak out for action to tackle bee decline

"Bee loss is SERIOUS, Demand action NOW" Bob Flowerdew

As part of a campaign to protect the bee, [1] Friends of the Earth is calling on David Cameron to produce a National Bee Action Plan to tackle bee decline. It says that the PM should suspend those pesticides linked with bee deaths, make changes to the way impacts on bee health are assessed and include targets for reducing use of pesticides.

A public meeting calling for action will take place on Wednesday, 27 June at the Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich at 7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm). Speakers [2] include Bob Flowerdew, broadcaster, author and President of the Norfolk Organic Group, Paul Metcalf, Easton College and President of Norfolk Beekeepers Association and Linda Laxton, Founder, British Wildflower Plants Co., Norfolk (largest wildflower producer in the UK and Chelsea Flower Show Award Winner). Chair for the evening is Chris Skinner, Norfolk farmer, BBC broadcaster and conservationist. Bee and honey related stalls will be on site. Admission is free.
For more information: email: foenorwich@hotmail.com Tel: 07864 674014

Jennifer Parkhouse, Co-ordinator, Norfolk Friends of the Earth said:
"The alarming decline of the bee is of concern to us all. The Government must fully recognise the importance and conservation needs of bees across the country. Friends of the Earth research reveals it would cost the UK £1.8 Billion every year to hand pollinate crops without bees. Food prices would soar and the economy would take another huge hit".

Chris Skinner, who farms 100 acres at Caistor St. Edmund on which 70 different species of bee collect their nectar, has designed his fields to encourage bees to settle in the area and help halt their decline. He said:
"70% of UK land area is farmed intensively for agriculture and is quite hostile to bees but we can all help reverse this trend of bee decline. Farmers and householders everywhere can allocate an area of their land or garden to attract bees. Pollen and nectar plants like borage, clover and phacillia not only add colour to the garden - bees love them!". He added: "We mustn't underestimate the importance of tackling bee decline. It's said that if we lose the bees, we will probably become extinct ourselves".

MP for Mid Norfolk and elected Chair of the All Party Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture, George Freeman said:
"The decline in bees in Britain and across Europe is serious not only for honey production but also because they are vital pollinators of our agricultural and horticultural crops, flowers and trees. I commend Friends of the Earth for raising public awareness of the plight of the bee through Bee Cause campaign. Now we need to develop appropriate policy based on best available scientific evidence. As Chair of the All Party Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture I hope that we can determine and reverse the causes of bee decline. We need healthy populations of bees for our food production, our economy and our quality of life".

Pesticide use rose by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010, increasing the risk to bee populations according to new research released last month by Friends of the Earth. The report "The Decline of England's Bees" [3] was carried out by leading bee experts at the University of Reading. As well as an overall rise in pesticide use, the report reveals an increase in insecticides that tend to be used on crops pollinated by bees - increasing the risk to them. The report also shows the use of herbicides can destroy important sources of food for bees.

Bees are critical to Britain's food supply and economy, but numbers of some species have fallen dramatically in recent years. Three British bumblebees have become extinct, solitary bees have declined and managed honeybee colonies fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005. Loss of lowland meadows and hedges and the destruction of local wildlife sites have removed vital sources of food and nesting sites for bees. The report finds that farmers urgently need more support to ensure a bee-friendly countryside, planning policy must be strengthened to protect bee habitats and there needs to be a new focus on supporting bee species other than managed honeybees.

Editor's notes:

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Parkhouse, emai: foenorwich@hotmail.com Tel: 07864 674014
Michael Uwins, email: michael.uwins@live.co.uk Tel: 07530 533747

[1] The Friends of the Earth Campaign 'The Bee Cause' can be found at: www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/the_bee_cause_35033.html
[2] Full list if speakers: Paul de Zyva, Head of nature, Friends of the Earth, Bob Flowerdew, Broadcaster, author and President of Norfolk Organic Group, Paul Metcalf, Easton College, President of Norfolk Beekeepers Association, Linda Laxton, Founder, British Wildflower Plants Company, Tim Strudwick, wild bee expert, Adviser to Norfolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

[3] To see a briefing of the report, and the full report, click on Bee Report at: www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/the_bee_cause_35033.htmi

Photo Opportunity: Speakers will join larger than life bees (colourful 2 metre bee costumes) in the Assembly House Garden for tea and honey between 6:30/7:15pm.