Bees

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th June 2015.

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Photo of Madeleine Moon Madeleine Moon Labour, Bridgend

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment she has made of the (a) threats to and (b) steps necessary to address the decline of British bees; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra recognises the importance of pollinators, including bees, and their value to food security and sustaining the natural environment. This is why Defra committed to producing the National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) (www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-pollinator-strategy-for-bees-and-other-pollinators-in-england).

To help inform the NPS, Defra commissioned a report published in July 2014 on the ‘Status and Value of Pollinators and Pollination Services’ (http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed=0&ProjectID=18916#RelatedDocuments). The report reviewed evidence on threats to pollinators and served to highlight the many pressures which pollinators face. A loss of flower-rich habitat is considered to be the likely primary cause of the recorded decline in diversity of wild bees and other pollinating insects. Another key finding was the uncertainty that remains over population levels. Addressing such key gaps in our understanding is one of the key aims of the NPS. Defra has commissioned a research project to develop a national pollinator monitoring framework to detect changes in pollinator populations in the future.

The NPS, published in November 2014, forms a framework for collective action to help manage and raise awareness of the pressures facing pollinators. To raise public awareness a ‘Call to Action’, “Bees’ Needs: Food and a Home” (www.wildlifetrusts.org/Bees-needs) was launched in July 2014. This is a simple message on the essential needs of pollinators and how to fulfil them.

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