Bees: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 3rd June 2021.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the population of native bees; and what assessment they have made of the extent to which any such plans will (1) improve pollination, and (2) boost production of UK farming crops.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Pollinators are a priority for this Government. The National Pollinator Strategy sets out actions we are taking, with our many partners, to improve the status of bees and other pollinators in England on farmland and other areas.

Our actions include restoring and creating habitat for bees and other wild and managed pollinators to thrive; acting on the pressures that impact on pollinators, including by supporting Integrated Pest Management (IPM); providing advice and raising awareness across society so that they can take action themselves; and supporting new monitoring and research. The Healthy Bees Plan 2030 sets out further action to improve honeybee health, alongside beekeeping associations and other stakeholders.

In 2019 we published a synthesis of the evidence on the status of UK pollinators and pollination services. This assessment found evidence of declines or range contractions in wild bees and other insects but trends in the pollination service are less well understood. For this reason, it is also difficult to make predictions about changes in crop yield.

We do know however that insect pollination directly increases the quantity and quality of yield in many crops in the UK. We also know that impacts of sub-optimal pollination have been identified in UK fruit crops. Boosting pollinator numbers therefore increases resilience and protects against risks to yield and maintains their crucial role in wild plant pollination.

Research in this area is ongoing. For example, the publicly-funded Global Food Security programme’s ‘Resilient Pollinators’ project is looking at the implications of future land use change for the resilience of pollination services to UK agriculture.

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