Press release
Press & Media

Over three quarters of British public agree garden centres should not sell garden plants grown with pesticides that are harmful to bees 

Findings come as Friends of the Earth launches Great British Bee Count 2017 

Over three quarters of the British public (78%) agree that garden centres and retailers should not sell plants grown with pesticides that are harmful to bees, a new YouGov survey for Friends of the Earth revealed today [1].

The findings coincide with the launch of Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count (19 May-30 June), which is supported by TV presenters Michaela Strachan and Ellie Harrison [2].
                                                                      
The Great British Bee Count uses a fun, FREE and easy-to-use app to help people find out more about the bees that visit their gardens, parks and neighbourhoods, and encourages them to take action to help these under-threat pollinators, such as creating bee-friendly spaces. To take part visit www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk or search ‘Great British Bee Count’ in your app store

Verified sightings recorded as part of Great British Bee Count will be shared with academic researchers and ecologists via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas [3]. 

Garden plants and pesticides

Garden centres and retailers are coming under increasing pressure to ensure that the plants they sell are free from pesticides linked to bee decline.

Last week new research [4] by leading bee expert Professor Dave Goulson found that 70% of plants tested contained neonicotinoid pesticides – including three pesticides restricted across Europe that have been found to pose a ‘high acute risk’ to honeybees.

B&Q has already announced [5] that it is banning neonicotinoid pesticides from all its flowering plants from next year. And thousands of people have joined a Friends of the Earth online petition urging leading plant retailers Homebase and Wyevale to take action too [6].

Friends of the Earth’s YouGov survey of British adults also found that the public is keen to take action to help bees: 61% would consider planting “bee friendly” plants in their garden to encourage wildlife and bees, and half (50%) would consider avoiding pesticides. 

A separate survey of people who took part in last year’s Great British Bee Count, found that 80 per cent said they were inspired to grow bee-friendly plants.

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said:

“Garden centres and retailers must listen to the public and ensure that their garden plants aren’t grown with pesticides that could harm our bees and other pollinators.

“People are concerned about the plight of Britain’s bees and are keen to help them – as our survey shows. 

“We hope people will take part in this year’s Great British Bee Count to find out more about our under threat bees and what they can do to help them.”

Bee expert Professor Dave Goulson – who carried out research published last week into pesticides in garden plants - said:  

"It seems pretty outrageous that well-meaning gardeners may be buying plants to help the bees and inadvertently poisoning them.

"The Great British Bee Count is a wonderful opportunity to get the nation out looking at bees and other insects, and appreciating all that they do for us"

TV presenter Michaela Strachan, who is supporting the Great British Bee Count said: 

"The humble bee is a vital pollinator. Buzzing around our gardens and countryside, it's a hard working little insect that pollinates our flowers and crops. But unfortunately these beautiful insects are under-threat. 
 
“By joining the Great British Bee Count you can find out more about the wonderful world of bees, and what you can do to help the plight of the humble bee. The free app includes tips on creating bee-friendly spaces, and will help you find out more about our buzzy friends. So download the app and get spotting!”

TV presenter Ellie Harrison who is supporting the Great British Bee Count said:
 
“Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count gives you the opportunity to learn about wild-bee species, to be involved in citizen science and to appreciate how important pollinators are in every meal we eat.”

Chief Executive of Buglife, Matt Shardlow, said:

“Bees and other pollinators are essential to life as we know it, but they are disappearing.  The Great British Bee Count engages people across the UK in looking out for the small things that run the planet, then together we can take action to make a difference for our pollinators.”

Kate Bradbury, wildlife gardening expert and author of The Wildlife Gardener said: 
 
"Getting to know bees is one of the most rewarding experiences. From the big buzzy bumbles to red mason and leafcutter bees, to tiny things that you'd never see if you didn't stop to look, there's a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. And, by taking a few simple measures, you can help these vital pollinators too." 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2054 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between  12th - 15th May 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
2. The Great British Bee Count uses a fun, free and easy to use app to help people identify some of bees that visit their gardens, parks and neighbourhoods and encourages them to take action to help them. Sightings and photos of the bees spotted can be submitted to Friends of the Earth via the app.  
3. Verified sightings recorded as part of Great British Bee Count will be shared with academic researchers and ecologists via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas. Verified sightings will also contribute towards the Government's new insect monitoring scheme and related Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership (PMRP). This, in addition to results from other detailed surveys, will help directly inform government policies and decisions on ways to reverse bee and pollinator decline.
4. Pesticides linked to bee decline discovered in “pollinator friendly” garden plants  | Daily Mail. Research on pesticides in garden plants here:
5. B&Q to stop selling plants grown with bee-harming pesticides | Guardian.
6. Get bee-harming pesticides out of garden plants – Friends of the Earth online action.

 

 

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Published by Friends of the Earth Ltd