To paraphrase Robert Green Ingersoll, hope is the only flower that makes honey without bees. And the same is true for many other plant products, aesthetic or nutritious. So I am well pleased that Elizabeth Truss MP has acted to protect bees. However, I am also disappointed the National Pollinator strategy doesn’t go far enough.
Leaving aside the great loss of beauty and resulting increase in stress-related illness, insect pollinators are vital for economically viable food production. It would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion/year to pollinate crops that are currently pollinated by bees and other insects. Even if they could bear this cost without having to price themselves out of the market – which is unlikely – natural pollination adds more value to crops; for example, wild pollinators add £37 million/year to the value of Gala and Cox apples.
So the new stronger guidance and support framework is an excellent step towards protecting our food supply and environment.
However, it is only a first step.
The Agricultural Industries Confederation, along with other organisations, are still campaigning to overturn the current EU ban on neonicotinoids and other pesticides that are harmful to bees.
To truly protect bees the Government must do more than issue guidance and support. It must commit to maintaining this scientifically based ban on pesticides.
So I commend Truss MP for looking beyond the next election, and enjoin her to continue.