Declining Numbers - A Sad Indictment

$577 billion

The global annual economic value of pollinators. In Ireland it is estimated that bees contribute around €53 million to the economy.

£4.1 billion

The amount donated to charitable causes by trusts and foundations in the U.K. in 2017 of which only £120 million went to environmental causes.

88%

The percentage of Irish people who feel the government is not doing enough to save our bees.

76%

The decline in flying insect populations by mass in Europe over 27 years between the 1991 and 2018.

40%

of the 30 million species of insect on the planet are now threatened with extinction.

40

the percentage of bee species worldwide now vulnerable to extinction – ie going extinct!

10

The number of years within which some prominent academics predict a complete collapse of insect populations with catastrophic effects for the rest of the natural ecosystem.

2

The minimum percentage of farmland that needs to be immediately returned to organically managed flower rich meadows to help halt bee population decline and perhaps allow the start of recovery of numbers within a number of years. Thats merely 1 in 50 acres.

1

The number of sanctuaries worldwide completely dedicated to saving threatened native wild bees – THE BEE SANCTUARY OF IRELAND

ABOUT ACTION

SAVING BEES REQUIRES
URGENT
ACTION
NOW.

action definition: the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim

doing something. not talking about doing something

doing something. not researching something.

doing something. not waiting to have a conference about doing something.

doing something.

now definition: at the present time or moment

present time. not soon.

present time. not sometime convenient in the future

present time. not after the next conference

present time.

So what can we do to help bees?

the quick answer:

stop poisoning them with chemicals
stop destroying and removing their habitat
make sure they have food

simple
not rocket science

a quick but very important and much avoided note here:

keeping hives of honey bees does nothing to help our native wild bees.
in fact studies are showing that keeping honey bees can have a
detrimental effect on native wild bee numbers.

Not just action...

'For Real' Action

What we advocate for is not merely action but rather what we call

‘for real action’

what is ‘for real action’?

it’s action that actually addresses the underlying problem or issue.

action that doesn’t gloss over the more difficult aspects of what we need to do to really solve the issue

action that doesn’t patronise or diminish the ability, willingness and capability of people to take on board how bad the problem is, understand what really needs to be done, take the hard decisions and roll their sleeves up and get on with making a real difference which will have long term positive impact.

action that doesn’t look for the easy option but the best option

for to really make a ‘for real’ difference for bees and all of nature right now

we need to take the best option every time

anything else is not an option it’s pretence. its not ‘for real’.

SO LETS GET ‘FOR REAL’ ABOUT THIS

To make a 'for real' difference

Inform yourself...then act

we need to get this right

so the solutions we pursue need

to be real and brave and honest

so take a bit of time – not too much as this is urgent –

 to figure out how best you can help bees

Three basic actions

Save the Bees:

1

stop poisoning them with chemicals

2

stop/removing their habitat – provide habitat

3

make sure they have food

 

3 easy concepts to grasp you’ll agree

but to get them really right

we need to look a little deeper

Action 1

Let's stop poisoning bees

THINK YOU’RE NOT INVOLVED IN POISONING BEES?

IF YOU USE SPRAYS IN YOUR GARDEN YOU’RE PROBABLY POISONING BEES

IF YOUR PET DOG OR CAT IS TREATED WITH A SPOT ON FLEA TREATMENT YOU COULD BE POISONING BEES

EATING FOOD NOT PRODUCED ORGANICALLY? THEN YOUR FOOD CHOICE COULD BE POISONING BEES

SOWING SEED WHICH IS NOT ORGANIC OR UNTREATED? THEN YOU COULD BE POISONING BEES

PLANTING SUPPOSED BEE FRIENDLY STORE BOUGHT PLANTS IN YOUR GARDEN? UNLESS THEY STATE THAT THEY ARE UNTREATED WITH PESTICIDES AND FUNGICIDES THEN YOU COULD BE POISONING BEES.

DEMANDING THAT YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITY KEEP YOUR STREET, ROAD, NEIGHBOURHOOD, VILLAGE, TOWN OR CITY ‘TIDY’ ENCOURAGES THE POISONING OF BEES.

WE’RE NOT TELLING YOU THIS TO BE NEGATIVE BUT MERELY TO INFORM  THAT OUR ACTIONS OFTEN HAVE CONSEQUENCES WHICH ARE HARMFUL AND FATAL TO NATURE. WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF THESE CONSEQUENCES MAKE SMARTER CHOICES, DEMAND BETTER AND SEEK ALTERNATIVES.

SO WHAT ACTIONS CAN HELP IN A ‘FOR REAL’ WAY TO PROTECT BEES FROM POISONING?

STOP USING CHEMICAL SPRAYS IN YOUR GARDEN. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARY. THEY ARE A MARKETED SOLUTION TO A PROBEM ‘CREATED’ BY THE GUYS WHO PRODUCE THE SPRAYS TO MAKE MONEY.

ASK YOUR VET FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO FLEA TREATMENTS CONTAINING NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES. THEY KNOW WHAT THEY DO. IF YOUR VET ISN’T HELPFUL – TALK TO A DIFFERENT VET.

TAKE AN INTEREST IN HOW YOUR FOOD IS PRODUCED. INFORM YOURSELF ABOUT WHAT CHEMICALS ARE USED IN THE GROWING OF YOUR FOOD AND THE INGREDIENTS USED. DEMAND MORE TRANSPARENCY ABOUT WHAT IS IN YOUR FOOD FROM RETAILERS, MANUFACTURERS, FARMERS AND POLICYMAKERS.

ASK FOR UNTREATED OR ORGANIC SEED WHEN BUYING SEED. IF YOU CREATE THE DEMAND THEN SEED PRODUCERS AND SELLERS WILL FOLLOW THE DEMAND. IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

LIKEWISE WHEN IT COMES TO BUYING PLANTS FOR YOUR GARDEN. PRESUME THAY ARE TREATED WITH A COCKTAIL OF CHEMICALS UNLESS IT IS STATED OTHERWISE. DON’Y BUY THEM. ASK FOR UNTREATED PLANTS. CREATE THE DEMAND. ALTERNATIVES ARE TO GROW FROM SEED AND/OR PLANT SWAP WITH A LOCAL TRUSTED SOURCE.

Action 2

Stop removing bee habitat

TRADITIONAL WILDFLOWER MEADOWS HAVE PRACTICALLY DISAPPEARED OVER THE LAST CENTURY

CHANGES IN OUR AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM TO HIGHLY INTENSIVE PRODUCTION IS THE MAIN DRIVER OF THIS.

BEES NEED FLOWERS AND SAFE CHEMICAL FREE NESTING SITES TO SURVIVE.

LANDOWNERS AND FARMERS NEED TO PROVIDE THIS HABITAT. NEED TO STEP UP AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS BUT THEY NEED TO BE SUPPORTED IN THEIR EFFORTS.

OUR HEDGEROWS, TREES AND ROADSIDE VERGES ARE VITAL FOR BEES AND INDEED WILDLIFE IN GENERAL BUT YEAR AFTER YEAR THEY ARE CONSTANTLY SHREDDED, CUT DOWN, SPRAYED AND REMOVED. ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE WOULD SUGGEST THAT THIS ‘ASSAULT ON NATURE’ IS ACTUALLY BECOMING WORSE RATHER THAN IMPROVING DESPITE THE UNDERSTANDING WE HAVE OF THEIR VITAL IMPORTANCE.

OUR FORESTRY MODEL NEEDS TO BE OVERHAULED TO PREVENT VAST AREAS OF LAND BEING STERILISED AND CHEMICALLY POISONED TO GROW MONOCULTURES OF FAST GROWING TREES WHICH DENY NATURE AND BEES SPACE TO THRIVE.

OUR URBAN AREAS HAVE BECOME LESS AND LESS WELCOMING TO NATURE AND BEES AS WE CONTINUE TO PURSUE THE VICTORIAN ATTITUDE OF DOMINANCE OVER NATURE. THE PURSUIT OF TIDINESS AND ‘FORM OVER FUNCTION’ AND THE USE OF CHEMICALS HAS BEEN DEVASTATING TO WILDLIFE, INSECTS AND BEES

AGAIN WE’RE NOT TELLING YOU THIS TO BE NEGATIVE BUT MERELY TO INFORM  THAT OUR ACTIONS OFTEN HAVE CONSEQUENCES WHICH ARE HARMFUL AND FATAL TO NATURE. WE NEED TO BE AWARE OF THESE CONSEQUENCES MAKE SMARTER CHOICES, DEMAND BETTER AND SEEK ALTERNATIVES.

Let's create and restore habitat

WE NEED TO PROTECT WHAT SUITABLE HABITAT IS LEFT. RECOGNISE IT FOR THE PRECIOUS RESOURCE IT IS AND VALUE IT.

ON OUR FARMS WE NEED TO MAKE SPACE FOR NATURE. FOR BEES. REAL SPACE. NOT JUST STRIPS METRES WIDE BESIDE WHICH WE CONTINUE TO SPRAY CHEMICALS.

WE NEED TO LEAVE OUR HEDGEROWS UNCUT AND ALLOW THEM TO EXPAND AND FLOURISH. OUR HEDGEROWS OR DITCHES AS THEY WERE ONCE KNOWN ARE A VITAL HABITAT AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

OUR GARDENS SHOULD BE TREATED AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AS HAVENS FOR NATURE AND NOT JUST A PLACE FOR US TO SOCIALISE AND PLAY. LEAVE AS MUCH AS YOUR GARDEN TO GO WILD AND SIT BACK AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS. HERE ON THE SANCTUARY WE HAVE FLIPPED THE USUAL ‘LEAVE A STRIP FOR NATURE’ PHRASE THAT IS USUALLY TROTTED OUT AND TURNED IT INTO ‘TAKE A STRIP FOR OURSELVES AND LEAVE THE REST FOR NATURE’. MAYBE START THINKING ‘WHAT DO I NEED’ RATHER THAN ‘WHAT DO I WANT?’

SO LET’S DO THIS. LET’S LEAVE WEEDS ALONE. LET’S TURN LAWNS TO MEADOW. LET’S PUT THE POISONS AWAY. LET’S GIVE NATURE AND THE BEES SOME SPACE.

A FIGHTING CHANCE.

Action 3

Let's feed the bees.

WILDFLOWERS AND ‘WEEDS’ FEED BEES BUT FOR A LONG TIME WE’VE IGNORED THIS SIMPLE TRUTH.

OVER THE PAST FIFTY YEARS WE’VE WAGED WAR ON THE VERY THINGS THAT BEES NEED TO SURVIVE.

BEES NEED A CONSTANT SUPPLY OF FOOD FROM WHEN THEY FIRST EMERGE IN EARLY SPRING UNTIL THEY ENTER HIBERNATION IN LATE AUTUMN. 

BEES NEED A VARIETY OF FOOD AND THEY NEED IT TO BE NEARBY THEIR NEST.

BUMBLEBEES WILL FORAGE UP TO THREE MILES FROM THEIR NEST BUT PREFER TO STAY CLOSER TO HOME.

SOLITARY BEES WILL GENERALLY FORAGE BETWEEN 150 AND 600 METRES FROM THEIR NEST.

A QUEEN BUMBLEBEE SITS ON HER EGGS TO KEEP THEM WARM. TO CREATE THE BODY HEAT TO DO THIS SHE MUST MAKE SIX THOUSAND FLOWER VISITS EVERY DAY. WHIST FORAGING FOR FOOD HER EGGS COOL DOWN SO IT IS VITAL THAT SHE HAS ADEQUATE SOURCES OF FOOD NEAR HER NEST.

IF THIS FOOD IS NOT AVAILABLE THEY STRUGGLE AND STARVE.

Bees need plentiful sources of safe forage near to their nests.

SO HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT THIS FOOD IS AVAILABLE FOR BEES. SIMPLE – LET NATURE BACK IN. OUR NATIVE WILD BEES HAVE EVOVED IN CLOSE PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR NATIVE PLANTS FOR OVER ONE HUNDRED MILLION YEARS. THESE PLANTS RELY ON BEES FOR POLLINATION AND REWARD BEES FOR THIS SERVICE BY PROVIDING FOOD.

ONE HUNDRED MILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION ISN’T WRONG SO WHY IGNORE IT?

THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO TO ENSURE BEES HAVE FOOD IS LOOK TO WHAT NATURE PROVIDES. WHAT GROWS NATURALLY LOCALLY? WHAT GROWS WHEN YOU TAKE A STEP BACK AND LEAVE IT BE. WHAT WILDFLOWERS EMERGE? REMEMBER WEED IS A TERM SEIZED UPON BY CHEMICAL COMPANIES TO SELL THEIR PRODUCT.

DANDELIONS, THISTLE, RAGWORT. EVEN DOCKS FEED A MULTITUDE OF INSECTS.

SO LEAVE SPACE FOR NATURE TO REESTABLISH IN YOUR GARDEN. ON YOUR ROAD AND STREET. IN YOUR LOCAL PARK. IN YOUR FIELD. EVERYWHERE.

IT COULDNT BE SIMPLER. THERE IS LITERALLY NO COST TO YOU IN TIME, EFFORT OR MONETARY TERMS.

BEYOND THIS WE CAN IF WE DESIRE GIVE NATURE A BOOST. A HELPING HAND TO MAKE UP FOR THE DEVASTATION WE HAVE CAUSED.

SOW SOME NATIVE WILDFLOWER SEED. ALWAYS UNTREATED WITH CHEMICALS.

GROW NATIVE TREES – NATIVE WILLOW TREES WHICH ARE MUCH OVERLOOKED SUPPORT AN UNBELIEVABLE AMOUNT OF CREATURES AND PROVIDE VITAL EARLY FORAGE FOR BUMBLEBEE QUEENS. TREES ARE VITAL BUT OFTEN OVERLOOKED WHEN ESTABLISHING POLLINATOR CORRIDORS.

WHEN PLANTING BULBS OR GARDEN SHRUBS MAKE SURE THEY ARE NOT PRETREATED WITH CHEMICALS AND ARE ACTUALLY USEFUL TO BEES AND OTHER INSECTS.

AGAIN FUNCTION NOT FORM NEEDS TO BE THE PRIORITY.

STOP SPRAYING POISON. PESTICIDES KILL. FUNGICIDES KILL. HERBICIDES KILL. THAT’S WHAT THEY ARE DESIGNED TO DO.

STOP KILLING NATURE.

ON YOUR FARM. LEAVE AREAS FOR NATURE. LOOK AT THE ORGANIC OPTION. LOOK AT THE LESS INTENSIVE OPTION. QUESTION THE ADVICE THAT EMANATES FROM ADVISERS TIED TO BIG AGRI AND CHEMICAL COMPANIES. TALK TO THOSE DOING IT DIFFERENTLY.  

So let’s all take ‘for real’ action together to save the bees.

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