Category Archives: Bees

New EU report on the risks from using neonicotinoids

A report from the European Food Safety Authority published on 28th Feb 2018 gathers together evidence from over 1500 studies and could be a game-changer for bees.

This landmark science review concludes that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a high risk to both honeybees and wild bees.

For the new assessments, which this time cover wild bees – bumblebees and solitary bees – as well as honeybees, EFSA’s Pesticides Unit carried out an extensive data collection exercise, including a systematic literature review, to gather all the scientific evidence published since the previous evaluations.

https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/180228

National Botanic Garden of Wales research has revealed which plants bees choose for their pollen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-39003201

Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.

Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.

Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.

Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.

Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.

“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.

“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”

The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.

Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.

The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.

Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.

Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.


 

New Research Shows Risk to Bumblebee Extinction

THE GOVERNMENT MUST BAN BEE-HARMING PESTICIDES AS NEW RESEARCH SHOWS RISK TO BUMBLEBEE EXTINCTION

The government must act to permanently ban bee-harming pesticides says
Friends of the Earth as new research from Royal Holloway University suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides pose a risk of bumblebee extinction.

The research showed that queen bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were
26% less likely to be able to start a new colony.

Friends of the Earth is urging the UK government to back moves in the EU to
permanently extend current neonicotinoid restrictions to all crops – and
commit to keeping any ban post-Brexit.

Responding to the research, Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature
campaigner, said:

“This new study comes hot on the heels of the largest field trials of
neonicotinoids showing harm to honey bees and wild bees. It also follows
new evidence of how these pesticides leak into the environment and turn up in
wildflowers posing further risk to bees.

“It is clear that use of these chemicals on any crop poses a risk to bees
and other wildlife. The Government has repeatedly said it will follow the
science – how much more science does it need before it acts to protect our
precious bees?

“Michael Gove must put his support behind a comprehensive ban on
neonicotinoid pesticides across the EU and continue the ban in the UK
post-Brexit”


*Editor’s notes:*

1) Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common
neonicotinoid pesticide, which could lead to collapses in wild bee
populations, according to new research [1] in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Guelph have found
that exposure to thiamethoxam, a common pesticide, reduced the chances of
a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter.

2) In June 2017 a pan-European field study was published [2] providing
evidence that neonicotinoids harm honeybees and wild bees. Covering a
crop area equivalent to 3,000 football pitches, it was the biggest yet
real-world study of these pesticides. Undertaken in the UK, Germany and
Hungary, the experiment found : Increasing levels of neonicotinoid
residues in the nests of wild bee species was linked with lower
reproductive success across all three countries; Exposure to treated
crops reduced overwintering success of honeybee colonies – a key
measure of year-to-year viability – in the UK and Hungary.

3) Another study [3] this year, carried out on corn farms in Canada, found
crops were not the main source of neonicotinoids to which bees were
exposed. Instead, the contaminated pollen came from wildflowers, as has
also been shown in the UK. Nadia Tsvetkov, at York University in Canada
and who led the research said that “This indicates that neonicotinoids,
which are water soluble, spill over from fields into the surrounding
environment, where they are taken up by other plants that are very
attractive to bees”.


[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0260-1

[2]https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/news/neonicotinoid-pesticides-harm-honeybees-wild-bees-first-pan-european-field-study

[3] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6345/1395

Landmark study shows pesticides damage bee colonies

The Guardian newspaper reports –

“Widely used insecticides damage the survival of honeybee colonies, the world’s largest ever field trial has shown for the first time, as well as harming wild bees.

The farm-based research, along with a second new study, also suggests widespread contamination of entire landscapes and a toxic “cocktail effect” from multiple pesticides.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows

Plant a pot for pollinators

Join the Butterfly Conservation’s Plant a Pot for Pollinators project:-

http://butterfly-conservation.org/10759/plant-pots-for-pollinators.html?utm_source=Butterfly%20Conservation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7101090_Support%20Copy%20of%20May%202016&utm_content=PPFP&dm_t=0,0,0,0,0

https://coventryobserver.co.uk/news/butterfly-conservation-urges-gardeners-to-help-nations-wildlife/

 

Abergavenny Chronicle Press Release – “Don’t mow wildflowers”

Abergavenny Chronicle – Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bee Friendly signs call on contractors to avoid cutting wildflower verges

“Members of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire have been out and about around Abergavenny planting signs on grass verges to discourage private contractors and council workmen from strimming wildflowers.

The signs bear the Bee Friendly symbol with the message below: ‘Do not mow while flowering’.  The same signage will also be installed by Monmouthshire County Council when the urban flowers mix is sown on roundabouts.

Chairwoman of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire Cyrene Powell says the group was ‘very disheartened’ to read the recent story in the Chronicle about the destruction of a bank of wildflowers in Wern Gifford, Pandy by a county council team subcontracted to SWTRA.”

http://www.abergavennychronicle.com/article.cfm?id=106017&headline=Bee%20Friendly%20signs%20call%20on%20contractors%20to%20avoid%20cutting%20wildflower%20verges&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2017


 

Letter and reply sent to the RHS magazine “The Garden” June 2017

Dear Sir
It was with considerable dismay that I read a section on Leafcutter bees contained in your article on page 41 of the Royal Horticultural Society magazine “The Garden”  June 2017 entitled “Which pest is on my roses?”

Under no circumstances should leafcutter bees be classified as “pests” in a garden and should not be listed alongside aphids, sawflies and scurfy rose scale!  Admittedly, within the paragraph about the bees, you stressed that they are important pollinating insects and “should be encouraged (Yes. Hoooray!) or at least tolerated (No. Totally negative!)” But I’m afraid the damage is done by even including the activities of the leafcutters under the general heading of “pests”.

My dismay was slightly tempered when I reached page 122 and read a positive description of the work of the leafcutters in Jean Vernon’s Wildlife column.

Perhaps you have never observed, with complete admiration, as I have a female leafcutter bee hard at work flying backwards and forwards to her nest ( in a bamboo tube in a bee hotel for example) carrying rolled up pieces of rose leaf to perfectly line the bamboo tube in which she lays her eggs. And finally cutting a circle of almost perfect diameter to plug the entrance hole at the front. Watch her flying head first into the tube with pollen to supply each cell and then reversing in to lay her egg before flying off for more supplies of rose leaves and pollen for the next cell.  It is absolutely fascinating to watch.

These tiny insects are one of the wonders of nature and deserve our total respect.  They have been on this earth for millions of years.  Count yourself lucky if you find holes in your rose leaves.  It means you have a healthy, thriving family of leafcutter bees somewhere nearby, indicating that your garden is well on its way to being wildlife friendly.

Regards

Secretary, Bee Friendly Monmouthshire
http://www.beefriendlymonmouthshire.org


Reply from “The Garden” magazine:

Thank you for your concern about including the leaf-cutter bee in the June edition of The Garden under rose pests. The primary reason for including the insect in this article was because the RHS Garden Advice service regularly receives enquiries about the characteristic leaf holes caused by these useful insects (in roses and other plants). Whilst these insects should not be considered pests it is the enquirer who asks ‘what pest has caused the damage?’. Therefore it was important to include this insect under the pests section in order to inform gardeners what causes the leaf holes and that it is a useful pollinator that should be tolerated, some gardeners still consider the damage unsightly even with this information. If it had not been included in this item many gardeners may still have considered the damage to be due to a pest and swatted the bee, occasionally we receive the squashed bees in the post.

You may be interested to read our advisory profile on leaf cutter-bees https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=829

You may also be interested in this year’s RHS/Wildlife trusts Wild about Gardens campaign which is focused on wild bees, of which the leafcutters are a featured species http://wildaboutgardens.org.uk/