The decline in bee diversity in the UK is a serious concern to many and can be attributed to decline in food resources (nectar and pollen), combined with other pressures that are more difficult to quantify such as fewer nesting sites and over-wintering sites, diseases (such as mites and viruses) and exposure to pesticides.
Various approaches to improving the environment for pollinators, while enhancing agri-production, were discussed at an Agri-Tech East networking meeting and the conclusion was that there is an opportunity for cautious optimism.
One speaker, Lynn Dicks, a Research Fellow at the Dept of Zoology at University of Cambridge, discussed her recent paper which provided a simple calculation for farmers.
To provide enough pollen to support six very common crop-pollinating bee species in the UK, this equates to approximately 1-3 ha of flowers, or 500m – 2km of flowering hedge per 100 hectares of crop, at lowest estimates only, using the minimum available estimates for bee density and pollen demand. These calculations have helped inform the new Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package as part of the UK’s Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
The full report of the meeting is available to Agri-Tech East members and to others on request.