Bees in the field

And in my garden,
And in my house.

Yep, I have bees living in the brickwork over my front porch. The neighbours say they have a nest in their front garden, by the front wall of the house, too. Sometimes the bees do fly into the house, but then we have a conversation about scaring the dogs and they leave again.

I mention my resident bees because I’ve just read a set of poems by Lorna Smithers lamenting the government’s decision to allow the use of nicotinoid pesticides on 5% of the oil seed rape crop, and the effect this will have on wild bee colonies. I’m worried about my resident bees; we grow a lot of oil seed rape ’round here, what if they get poisoned?

The bees and I have an agreement; I’ll provide them with food if they pollinate may veg plants. It’s worked well this year, my front lawn was a lovely little meadow, rich in red clover, until I had to cut the grass (I had an inspection from my lettings agent). Fortunately, I dug a flower bed in the spring and sowed a ‘wildlife mix’ in it. The bees appreciated it.

Due to the hard work of the bees my plants have all produced seed heads and there will be food for them next year (I also have a lavender bush to plant); I’ve also had plenty of peas, beans and tomatoes out of my garden too. It’s much appreciated, because living on a low income, any food I can grow rather than buy helps keep the food bills down.

This small scale domestic arrangement is the microcosm to farming’s macrocosm. Bees pollinate the majority of food crops.

Think about that for a moment. Consider, should there be further decline in bee populations, what will happen to our food supply?

A bit of background might be useful, if you’re not familiar with the bee story.

In 2013 the EU introduced a temporary moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids, after Colony Collapse Disorder affected so many commercial and wild bee populations. The UK government supported their opposition to the ban using a non-peer reviewed ‘paper’ written by a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27264-bee-pesticide-study-furore-is-called-a-scandal/

In the last year new research has shown that honeybees and buff-tailed bumblebees are actually actively attracted to neonicotinoids, causing them to ingest higher amounts.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27395-tainted-love-bees-prefer-food-laced-with-harmful-pesticides/

In May this year the Expert Committee on Pesticides refused to allow the ban to be lifted, and the Department for Environment, Food and Agriculture refused to release the minutes of that meeting. Yet in June the ECP changed their minds, after the NFU requested they lift the ban. The only outside representatives present: people from Bayer and Syngenta, who make and distribute these pesticides*. As ever the Tory government are more interested in helping their corporate supporters make more money than they are in the welfare of this country and all its inhabitants (yes, actually, I do consider the non-human residents our equals).

I’m angry, everyone should be angry. If ever we needed more proof that the government is only interested in looking out for themselves and their capitalist friends, we have it here.

*According to the post I linked first. I’m trying to find independent evidence to corroborate Lorna’s statements, though I trust her to provide accurate information.

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