The Observer newspaper says :- “the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has decided to waive restrictions on the use of a class of highly dangerous powerful toxins and permit their release on crops. Neonicotinoids have been described as the Novichok of bees: a single teaspoon is sufficient to kill more than a billion, say scientists.”
“Pollinators, other insects and the wildlife that depends on them need connected flower-rich habitats to feed, breed and thrive.
We’ve been asked if we can help Bug Life with their ambitious B-Lines project. The aim is to establish a 3km wide, mapped, insect superhighway across UK towns and countryside with north-south and east-west highways in each county. In the countryside this can include wildflower-rich meadows, scrub mosaics, species-rich hedgerows, wetlands, heathland and native woodland. In more built-up environments it may include pollinator friendly and chemical free gardens, ponds, parks, window boxes, green roofs or living walls. Over 2,500 dots have been added to the B-Lines map by individuals, businesses, local authorities, farmers and more, with over 3,500 hectares of wildflower habitat work completed, but they need more to achieve their ambitious aim.
Anyone who has enhanced or created habitat for pollinators can add their site to the map, to identify existing corridors and show areas where there is a potential to join sites. At MMG we have added our reserves, and I’ve added our home fields to the map. It is already starting to show a number of dots around Monmouthshire. It would give Bug Life a boost if we were able to add some more. “
“Relatively little is known about the nesting requirements of ground-nesting wild bees, although nesting sites are of central importance for most wild bee species. There are almost 600 wild bee species in Germany and 75% nest in the soil. To date, however, most of the research has concentrated on the wild bee species that nest above ground in cavities. Now, researchers at the University of Göttingen have shown in a study on calcareous grasslands that the removal of vegetation in small areas led to a significant increase in ground nests, especially if there was a high abundance of flowering plants nearby…”
Buglife says “One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators. It is almost impossible to over-emphasise the importance of the service pollinators perform for us.
Many plants rely on insects to pollinate their flowers and so complete their reproductive cycle – most plants cannot set seed without being pollinated (receiving the pollen, usually from another flower). Without bees, hoverflies and other insects visiting flowers, there would be no strawberries, apples, avocados, chocolate, cherries, olives, blueberries, carrots, grapes, pumpkins, pears, plums or peanuts…. And very few flowers in our gardens and countryside.
It is estimated that 84% of EU crops (valued at £12.6 billion) and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination…”
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has published a new evidence-based position statement on the impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees. We have set out five key recommendations to help policy makers, local authorities, businesses and individuals reduce the negative impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees and other non-target animals. In most situations this means not using pesticides at all.
Guardian newspaper report – “Bumblebees are associated with lives of work rather than play, but researchers have for the first time observed the insects playing with balls for enjoyment, just like humans and dogs.
A team of UK scientists watched bees interacting with inanimate objects as a form of play and said the findings added to growing evidence that their minds are more complex than previously imagined…”
New B-Lines are being created in Newport (and Neath Port-Talbot) and there are existing routes though all of Monmouthshire. Pollinators will benefit, including rare species such as the Shrill Carder bee and Long-horned bee which can be found in Monmouthshire.
“Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse” Dave Goulson, Aug 2021
In this book Professor Goulson examines the dramatic decline in insects, the vital services they perform, the potential causes and possible solutions. Insects pollinate three quarters of our crops, recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy and control pests. Birds and fish rely on insects for food. We cannot function without them yet their decline is estimated as 75% in the past 50 years. A study of nature reserves in Germany from 1989 to 2016 recorded a 75% fall in weight of insects caught in traps. A 10 year grasslands study showed an average two-thirds loss of weight in the insects, spiders, woodlice etc. Common UK butterfly abundance fell by 46% in 40 years. There is little worldwide systematic monitoring of insects but the decline of insect eating birds shows the trend. North American insect eating birds have declined by 40% in 47 years with swallows and swifts numbers falling by 70% in 20 years. Similar declines are shown in the very limited studies from Africa, Asia and South America. At what point will there be a catastrophic failure in our environment? The book reviews causes of the insect decline, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides and herbicides, farming practices and climate change. Agricultural change is required to manage these problems plus a change in Western life style and eating choices. This book makes a major contribution to raising awareness.
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