The past decade has seen an alarming decline in insect numbers, bees specifically, and in a domestic respect this is largely attributable to the decrease of their natural habitats.
Since 1979 the indigenous Hymenoptera, (the group of insects comprising sawflies, wasps, bees and ants), of the British Isles have halved in population.
Alerted by this, the Food & Environment Research Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) centre for Ecology and Hydrology has undertaken a conservation project to encourage new living grounds for the bee, moth and ant population.
In conjunction with several charity groups, including Buglife, and under the guidance of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), NERC plan to establish bee roads forming a cross country vein and merging in Yorkshire. Local agriculturalists are being asked to sow parallel wild flower tracks on their land, whose bloom season will form a rich corridor of pollen. Buglife’s involvement stems from the need for these refuge points. They led the protest against the redevelopment of the brownfield zones along the Thames waterline which supported a significant population of Hymenoptera.
There also has been some corporate interest in bees’ welfare and not without good reason, for aside from the ecological ramifications, there lies the monetary cost of the loss of the most prolific pollinator in the British ecosystem, not to mention the cheapest! Their absence could cost us £440,000,000 per year as their loss would have a catastrophic effect on domestic agriculture and force us to replace their free service with increased imports and alternative pollination methods.
In light of this, the supermarket chain The Co-Operative, has taken interest in the new conservation venture, donating £60,000 to the project that plans to restore 12 acres of Yorkshire countryside.
Good for them, we say, and let’s hope many other sponsors get involved and these colourful living corridors spread all across the country.
By Josh Ellison