Bee breakfast - where’s my coffee?

Sandra Bell

23 May 2012

Yesterday we served breakfast to 50 people at the Century Club in Shaftesbury Avenue. This special bee breakfast was to launch our new report about the decline of bees.

As I chatted to MPs, journalists, fellow bee campaigners and scientists over dry toast I felt smug about my decision to have a strong cup of coffee on the way.

To highlight the importance of bees to a healthy, caffeinated, and tasty diet we had deprived guests of all bee pollinated foods at the start of the event. So you can imagine the relief when the caterers swooped in with coffee, fruit platters and pots of jam – all brought to us thanks to bees.

Professor Simon Potts of the University of Reading did a great job of explaining why bees are so important, why they're in trouble and what the Government should be doing to help them. Here are some amazing facts from the event:

  • We have 276 species of bee in the UK and they have special roles.
  • Tomatoes need large-bodied bumblebees to ‘buzz pollinate’ them - vibrating the flowers to release pollen.
  • Mason bees are best for apples.
  • The combined efforts of wild bees and managed bees are needed to get really good juicy strawberries.

Government action

Less amazing is the Government’s action to date to help our bees, especially as most of its efforts are focussed on just one of our 276 species – the honey bee. Simon gave the Government a bee minus. 

Particularly worrying is that pesticide use rose by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010. And the effects of these chemicals on wild bees is not even checked before they're approved.

What we’re asking the Government

We need the Government to do more to support bee-friendly farming and stop the use of the most damaging chemical pesticides; to protect important habitats for bees and to make sure that every opportunity is taken to include bee-friendly spaces in local planning proposals. 

There’s no one simple solution - which is why our Executive Director Andy Atkins stressed the need for David Cameron to commit to a National Bee Action Plan and invited everyone to join us in shaping its content.

What you can do

But bees need practical help too. So it was great to have Sarah Raven of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms fame at our launch to remind us of the importance of everyone doing their bit for bees in their gardens.

You can help by asking David Cameron to draw up a National Bee Action Plan. 

Find out more

Read the full report The Decline of England's Bees or a summary briefing Reviving British Bees.

Sandra Bell, Bee campaigner

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