Getting serious about the bee crisis

The UK’s largest Bee Summit aimed at tackling the causes of bee decline, will take place in London next Friday (28 June 2013), Friends of the Earth revealed today.




The summit comes amid mounting concern about the decline in UK bee populations and the impact this could have on our food, gardens and countryside.

The Bee Summit has been organised by Friends of the Earth, who will host the event alongside Waitrose, the Co-operative and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. The meeting will bring together government officials, MPs, scientists, farmers, landowners, food retailers and producers to agree on the action required to reverse the decline of all Britain’s bees.

The summit will be addressed by Environment Minister Lord de Mauley, who is coming under growing public and political pressure to introduce an urgent Bee Action Plan to tackle the worrying decline in UK bees and other pollinators – not just action on managed honeybees.

Friends of the Earth’s is calling on the Minister to commit the Government to a Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats bees face, such as habitat loss. The environment charity’s call is backed by over 200 MPs from all parties, businesses such as B&Q and the Co-op and tens of thousands of individuals.

Friends of the Earth’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Craig Bennett, who will speak at the summit said: “This bee summit comes at a crucial time – our food, gardens and countryside face a major crisis unless urgent steps are taken to protect these key pollinators.

“By bringing together experts, politicians and the food industry we hope we can agree on the measures needed to reverse the decline of our bee populations.

“Businesses, MPs and scientists are all backing the growing call for a Bee Action Plan – the Government must get off the fence and introduce one.”

Quentin Clark, Head of Sustainability and Ethical Sourcing, at Waitrose said: “We rely on bees and other pollinators to successfully produce many of our crops. Bee decline is therefore more than a business risk; it’s a potential risk to food security.

“Waitrose is committed to protecting bee populations, which is why we have introduced a Seven Point Plan for Pollinators on a precautionary basis.

“A holistic approach is urgently needed, bringing together the food industry, scientists and politicians to agree a comprehensive bee action plan to protect the health of bees and other pollinators.”

Chris Shearlock, Sustainable Development Manager at The Co-operative said: “Being both Britain’s biggest farmer and a major food retail serving over 14 million people each week we fully recognise the importance of bees and other pollinators to our business.

“Through our Plan Bee campaign, we’ve taken action on pesticides, worked to with our members to help bees in their own communities and funded research.

“We very much back calls for the introduction of a national bee action plan to reverse this worrying decline.”

National Federation of Women’s Institutes spokesperson, Marylyn Haines Evans, said: “WI members have been working to save the honeybee since 2009, and we wholly support the call for a Bee Action Plan.

“We cannot afford to simply stand by and do nothing; three quarters of the world’s food crops rely on insect pollination and it is a fact that our bee populations are in crisis.

“This Summit provides an important opportunity to look to the future. We’re now looking for the Government to pick up the baton and show some leadership on this issue and introduce an action plan as a matter of real urgency.”