Wednesday 20 February 2013

Why is Bee Decline Not an International Emergency?

I'm beginning to wonder just what in the world bees need to do to grab the attention of the media and the general public the way other issues grab them? 

Within the next month or so (date to be confirmed), EU member states will vote, again, on the European Commission's proposal to restrict the use of three of the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticides on certain flowering crops throughout Europe. The results of this vote are of ENORMOUS consequence. We're talking here about nothing short of mass extinction if our already depleted pollinator population is not protected from continuing poisoning by these, and other insecticides. It's not as if we haven't already pushed them to the brink by destroying, degrading and fragmenting their habitat. 

Before the last vote took place on March 15th, a number of member states raised objections to certain aspects of the EC's proposal, but the UK, alone, rejected the entire proposal. On the day, the UK 'abstained'. The voting system requires that there need to be more votes in support of the proposal than those against and those abstaining added in this case the UK's abstention was as good as voting 'against' the proposal. Because there was not an overall majority either way the proposal will be voted on again at the end of April or in early May.

The UK government are quite clearly doing everything they can to block this partial ban.  

You'd have thought the unprecedented decline of the creatures responsible for pollinating a third of the world's food - not to mention over 80% of all the flowering plants on this planet - might prompt concern; that it might justify a mention on the six o'clock news, or an appearance on the front page of the national newspapers. You might also have thought the media would have something to say about our government's dangerous stance on this issue.....

But no. This issue is barely ever discussed in the media so the majority of the population remain completely oblivious of the fact there even IS a problem. I believe people would be outraged if they were to understand exactly how serious bee decline has become - but the fact it's not making headline news means we are not party to the information that might make us think twice about using pesticides - and/or prompt us to plant bee attracting flowers in our gardens. One of the most frustrating things about bee decline is that it is something we could all do something about. If only we knew it was happening. 

I appreciate that the recent horse meat issue was absolutely scandalous, but seriously, it was a picnic in the park compared with the possibility of mass insect extinction
. And, make no mistake, if we don't do everything we can to halt the decline of bees and other pollinators, that is exactly where we're heading.

As I've written in previous posts, pesticides are not the only cause of bee decline. We have lost 98% of our wildflower meadows and grasslands since the end of the second world war and this has already had a very serious impact on bee species and population. There are other contributing factors such as climate change, pollution, disease and (for honeybees) the practices involved in large scale commercial beekeeping. 

Banning, or at least restricting the use of the neonicotinoid group of insecticides that are implicated in bee deaths will not in itself solve the problem; but it will go a long way towards it. It's too late to bring back most of the the lost habitat, and we can't halt climate change tomorrow, but we KNOW these pesticides are contributing to bee decline and it is within our power to stop using them and revert to more sustainable farming practices. 

Bees are not only important as pollinators of human food. They are 'keystone species' within the world's eco-systems. A world without bees would result in a world without the wild flowers they pollinate, along with the loss of the birds, amphibians and small mammals that feed upon the seeds and other parts of those wild flowers - and of course the predators further up the food chain that rely on the small birds and mammals to keep them alive. And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Talking about icebergs, I'm beginning to understand what it must have been like to be aboard the Titanic just before she went down. A few of the passengers have noticed the iceberg and realise the implications should the ship not change course immediately - but most of them are either turning a blind eye, listening to the latest celebrity gossip, and putting their trust the ship's captain who says he's concerned about the iceberg but needs to see 'unequivocal scientific evidence that hitting ice-bergs causes ships to sink' before he will give the order to turn his vessel around.

Anyway, it's beyond my understanding why something as obvious and tangible as bee decline isn't getting the publicity and attention it deserves, but in the mean time you can help by writing to your MP and asking him/her to put pressure on Owen Paterson, Secretary for the Environment to vote in favour of the EC's proposed partial ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

You can download a template for your letter from the BUGLIFE charity website here -  Letter to MP template 

And for up-to-date information about the current situation please read this excellent post by Matt Shardlow CEO of Buglife..... The Flight of Neonicotinoids

Loss of wild pollinators serious threat to crop yields, study finds

Thank you for all that you do! 

Brigit x


  1. It never ceases to amaze me how many people out there are unaware of the natural world that surrounds them - apprently there are people who think that biodiversity is a brand of washing powder. We can only keep on trying to get the message out there as best we can.

  2. Hi Brigit, I understand your consternation. I read A World Without Bees several years ago now and wrote to my MP. The response was the usual guff. I don't have much time for him anyway. I don't think we're singing from the same song sheet, put it that way.

    Depressing as it is I am coming to the conclusion that there is a minority of people who care about this issue, food sourcing, and the planet as a whole, but unfortunately the majority don't. And I don't just think it is always ignorance I think it is apathy or in some cases feeling that the problems are too big and their role is so small, that it doesn't matter.

    We have the crazy situation where farmers are being encouraged to have field margins with flowers in them and yet the crop they surround is rapeseed which is grown from seeds treated in neonics. I have written to several of the rapeseed oil producers asking them whether their seed is treated and I have had no response.

    I know from discussions with a lot of people we know who are a fairly typical sample that caring about what they eat is not a high priority and if what they put in their bodies doesn't matter to them it's hard to see how they will care about the myriad of other problems the planet faces. I can only hope the EU does the right thing next week because our government isn't interested.

  3. It's too late.
    The end is coming by 2030.
    Good riddance "humanity", let nature start again.

    1. Thanks for the heads up...

    2. That is a horrible outlook. It is never too late unless we give up, and how dare you wish for the deaths of people you don't even know? Wishing extinction on people, that is sick! People are individuals, blanket hate such as this, blanket judgment without even knowing those you are judging, is foolish and tyrannical!

      Why do so many people always rush to death or forced control as options? You wonder why the world is so dark and cruel? There will never be peace on this world if we keep opting for death and forced control (tyranny) as viable options! Or keep allowing corrupt people to get away with their corrupt actions (such as Monsanto) If you don't have love and compassion in your heart, there won't be any love and compassion in this world. Extinction is not the answer to this problem!

    3. I absolutely disagree with your statement that it's 'too late'. We have no idea what is around the corner. If I didn't have hope I wouldn't bother getting up in the morning....let alone writing blog posts about bees!

      Also, although humanity has been responsible for some awful deeds we have also done some wonderful things. Rough times ahead but it ain't over till the fat lady sings

    4. I'm with that poster, honestly. More and more it feels like I'm seeing the death throes of civilization as a whole. And people can't / won't make the moves that could make things better. Usually out of some misguided thought that "There's some way that we can do this and EVERYONE can be happy and NO ONE needs to be hurt!"

      Good riddance, if you ask me.


  5. Hi, I am Apiculturist with PhD (Honey bee pathology)from the University of Helsinki and 30 years experiences in bee research. I wrote two years ago that I found a solution to end the Colony Collapse Disorder. I have a website about bees, so far no one contacted me to give me a chance to continue my research. My direct e-mail address is also available in my website. I believe it is because of my skin color which does not match with Europeans.
    Dr. Kamran Fakhimzadeh

  6. Birgit, you say that you do not understand why newspapers are not interested in this massive decission for the bees. Please get yourself comfortable and listen to what David Icke has got to say, not specifically about bees but about live as a whole. I promise you that it is shocking but then I am convinced that you will understand. PS: I started with my beehive last year and they seem to do very well. All is not lost yet !! Love and good wishes.

  7. Many good points about bees in this ongoing crisis.
    Odd that you would work in the idea that the horse meat scandal is NOT scandalous this week, a picnic.

    Last week lots of people were on the horse meat story. This week the giant evil corporation NESTLE has been dragged into the mix. Nice to see Nestle get some bad press...........but this week I see many many stories about X telling us that the horse meat scandal is old news, small potatoes, irrelevant etc. I'm sure Nestle is pleased that people are downplaying the horse meat story just as they get dragged into it. Pardon my cynicism if it is misplaced.

    1. So agree about the horse meat...especially now that NESTLE have been shown to be involved!

      I think what I'm trying to say (maybe not very well) is that if you take something as enormous as the horse meat scandal and think of it as a picnic compared with insect extinction....then you get the the scale of what mass insect extinction would be. If that makes sense?

    2. Yes Brigit, seems good common sense to me...


  8. Everyone can help bees by planting native flowers and shrubs in whatever outdoor space they have. And avoiding any chemical use in their yards. Many of the flowering plants used in yards and gardens are exotic species and can have little value for the local, native bee populations so using native flowers is really important. I also advocate supporting any lawsuits against Monsanto, a truly evil corporation controlled by brain-dead, soulless zombies intent on destroying this planet!

  9. After all the hoopla about gun control and Sandy Hook (which now appears to have never happened, just stirred up emotions), not one word has been reported about the declining bee population, or why they're dying. Monsanto explects to quietly take everything natural and replace it with GMO organisms, and what do they get out of it?

  10. It is not just pesticides. Watch the documentary about frequencies (cell phones). WIFI is absolutely terrible for living beings. It's an eye opener. Sadly as they say - we can't put the genie back. Bees exposed to that frequency are not coming back to their bee-hives! Watch it!

  11. Brigit, I keep coming across references that Monsanto is working on a GMO "Super Bee", and that is part of the reason they are trying to eliminate the natural bee. So they would then own the only bees left. I'm sure you also know that Monsanto is now asking US to allow them to bring back agent orange as weed control, since "round-up-ready" has turned into a fiasco. It has created "super-weeds" that are herbicide resistant, and nothing will kill them...Just a little more information for you. Thank you for what you do....

  12. The "It's too late", doom & gloom monsters comments are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. Good post as usual Brigit. Keep it up!

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