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How partnerships can help save the honey bee

By Quentin Scott

Honeybees

The humble honey bee has had a well-documented difficult last few years. Its numbers have dwindled, and the British Beekeeping Association has reported that its members produced, on average, a kilogramme less honey last year than in 2016.

Bees are not alone in their plight. A study by Sussex University last year concluded there had been a dramatic fall in the number of flying insects in German nature reserves over the past 25 years. Such was the decline in numbers that the study’s lead, Professor Dave Goulson, described it as “horrific” and a path to “ecological Armageddon.”

There are numerous reasons for the near collapse in insect numbers, including those of the honey bee. Climate change is a significant factor. Construction and development, coupled with environmental changes, have seen the UK lose 98 percent of its flower meadows in the last 70 years, denying insects much needed habitats. And insect-harming pesticides have also affected population numbers.

There could be some much-needed respite on the horizon, at least in terms of the use of pesticides. Environment Secretary Michael Gove signalled last year that the UK would back proposals for a total ban on insect-harming pesticides. That’s extremely welcome, but if we’re to have any chance of restoring the numbers of bees and other insects, the promotion of biodiversity and development of habitats for them is an absolute must.

This requires not just government action, but also charitable and corporate sustainability projects that support the bee population. Recognising the plight of the honey bee two years ago, we partnered with the Plan Bee organisation to launch and establish 25 hives across our UK solar park sites in Suffolk, Cornwall and Dorset. These hives are now home to more than two million bees – providing them with essential habitats and creating a resource that can be used to educate the public on the importance of biodiversity.

Low Carbon Hives

But it’s not been plain sailing. Like the British Beekeepers Association, we’ve seen reductions in the amount of honey being produced year on year across the hives. And the prevalent environmental issues affecting bee numbers have even resulted in hives collapsing.

These difficulties are typical of the challenges facing the honey bee – and the wider insect – population. And they highlight the urgent need for action, both in terms of creating habitats through sustainability projects and raising public awareness of what is a significant issue with the potential to degenerate into a crisis. As pollinators, bees and other insects play a critical role in the food chain, and the sharp decline in their numbers has the potential to prompt longer-term food shortages unless action is taken.

The UK commitment to a widespread ban on insect-harming pesticides is very welcome. However, ultimately what will turn the tide for bees and other insects is greater public awareness and action to tackle climate changes. Cutting carbon emissions will help in protecting vital habitats. And sustainability projects such as ours will ensure the issue remains in the public consciousness.

 

Quentin Scott is a Director at Low Carbon.

Low Carbon (www.lowcarbon.com) is a privately-owned renewable investment company that currently operates more than 270MW of solar farms across the UK.

 


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How partnerships can help save the honey bee

By Quentin Scott

Honeybees

The humble honey bee has had a well-documented difficult last few years. Its numbers have dwindled, and the British Beekeeping Association has reported that its members produced, on average, a kilogramme less honey last year than in 2016.

Bees are not alone in their plight. A study by Sussex University last year concluded there had been a dramatic fall in the number of flying insects in German nature reserves over the past 25 years. Such was the decline in numbers that the study’s lead, Professor Dave Goulson, described it as “horrific” and a path to “ecological Armageddon.”

There are numerous reasons for the near collapse in insect numbers, including those of the honey bee. Climate change is a significant factor. Construction and development, coupled with environmental changes, have seen the UK lose 98 percent of its flower meadows in the last 70 years, denying insects much needed habitats. And insect-harming pesticides have also affected population numbers.

There could be some much-needed respite on the horizon, at least in terms of the use of pesticides. Environment Secretary Michael Gove signalled last year that the UK would back proposals for a total ban on insect-harming pesticides. That’s extremely welcome, but if we’re to have any chance of restoring the numbers of bees and other insects, the promotion of biodiversity and development of habitats for them is an absolute must.

This requires not just government action, but also charitable and corporate sustainability projects that support the bee population. Recognising the plight of the honey bee two years ago, we partnered with the Plan Bee organisation to launch and establish 25 hives across our UK solar park sites in Suffolk, Cornwall and Dorset. These hives are now home to more than two million bees – providing them with essential habitats and creating a resource that can be used to educate the public on the importance of biodiversity.

Low Carbon Hives

But it’s not been plain sailing. Like the British Beekeepers Association, we’ve seen reductions in the amount of honey being produced year on year across the hives. And the prevalent environmental issues affecting bee numbers have even resulted in hives collapsing.

These difficulties are typical of the challenges facing the honey bee – and the wider insect – population. And they highlight the urgent need for action, both in terms of creating habitats through sustainability projects and raising public awareness of what is a significant issue with the potential to degenerate into a crisis. As pollinators, bees and other insects play a critical role in the food chain, and the sharp decline in their numbers has the potential to prompt longer-term food shortages unless action is taken.

The UK commitment to a widespread ban on insect-harming pesticides is very welcome. However, ultimately what will turn the tide for bees and other insects is greater public awareness and action to tackle climate changes. Cutting carbon emissions will help in protecting vital habitats. And sustainability projects such as ours will ensure the issue remains in the public consciousness.

 

Quentin Scott is a Director at Low Carbon.

Low Carbon (www.lowcarbon.com) is a privately-owned renewable investment company that currently operates more than 270MW of solar farms across the UK.

 


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