Experts buzzing with ideas on how to tackle bee decline

Fiona Tavner, organiser of the Oxfordshire Bee Summit

Fiona Tavner, organiser of the Oxfordshire Bee Summit

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

EXPERTS gathered at Oxford’s University Museum of Natural History to discuss ways of tackling bee decline yesterday.

At the first Oxfordshire Bee Summit, organised by Friends of The Earth, businessmen, politicians and environmental campaigners called on landowners to grow more pollinator-friendly plants.

It was also agreed that a committee should be established to coordinate the different efforts of groups in the county.

Event organiser Fiona Tavner said: “It’s quite clear that our bees and other wild pollinators such as butterflies and moths are in trouble and need our help.

“Now it is time to give people the means to get started.”

Topics of discussion during the conference included how to persuade farmers to grow more pollinating plants and to create beelines – corridors of habitats up and down the country.

Ms Tavner added: “That is very localised in the north at the moment and parts of the South West and Wales.

“One of our visions would be for Oxfordshire to become a hub that links north and south.”

Oxfordshire Bee Keeping Society chairman Pete Chaunt said a new body was needed to help bee populations.

He said: “It would coordinate all the activities that are going on and speak to farmers, community groups and local government so that we can all work together.

“Farmers are still using pesticides as well, so we need to start offering incentives and subsidies to stop that.

“Otherwise, ideally, we could switch to organic farming - but that would mean a big increase in food costs.

“People wanting to help can plant fruit trees, shrubs and any type of plant that is bee-friendly.”

Oxford City Council was also present. Leader Bob Price and board member for parks, sports and events Mark Lygo both attended.

Mr Lygo said the council would be making commitments to a more coordinated strategy.

He said: “Budgets are tight but we can make a commitment to plant more wild flowers and to encourage more habitats.

“We need more coordination to align projects that are going on already and to work more with the volunteers out there.”

Eleanor Lischka, a Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman, was also in attendance and confirmed that a central government strategy report would be published by the end of February.

  • We can all do our bit to help bees by putting the right kind of plants in our gardens.

Bee-friendly spring garden plants include:

  • Wallflower
  • Holly
  • Primrose
  • Blackcurrant
  • Dandelion
  • Damson
  • Blueberry

Across the world, there are believed to be around 20,000 different species of bees.

They live in colonies and there are three types of bees in each colony.

It is a fact – certain species of bees die after stinging.

They have pretty good vision and see all colours except red.

Bees store their venom in a sac and only female bees sting.

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