The Defra-coordinated annual Bees’ Needs Week is now underway, with an online launch to highlight what everyone can be doing at home to care for pollinators.
Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in food production and agriculture – they contribute the equivalent of more than £500 million a year to UK agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity – and are also vital to our wider, natural ecosystems.
The coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity for being in nature. According to Natural England’s People and Nature Survey for England, 60% of adults in England said that they had spent time outside in green and natural spaces in the previous two weeks.
These spaces are vital homes for insect pollinators, of which there are thousands of species in the UK, including moths and butterflies as well as our beloved honeybees, bumblebees and many solitary bees. But their populations are under threat from risks such as habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, pests and disease, climate change and pesticide use.
Through the National Pollinator strategy, Defra working with farmers, business and conservation organisations to provide pollinator habitat on farmland, in urban areas and in gardens.
Bees’ Needs Week 2020 will see Defra and many other organisations working together to encourage everyone who can to do simple things at home – like growing more flowers and cutting grass less often – to help pollinators thrive, and to engage further with nature through citizen science initiatives such as the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme’s (PoMS) insect counts.
Defra Minister for pollinators, Rebecca Pow, said: “This year, we have seen an increased appreciation for nature in England in response to the coronavirus pandemic with the nation building back greener. Bees’ Needs Week is about celebrating the fact that everyone can get involved by leaving patches of garden to grow wild, growing more flowers, cutting grass less, not disturbing insect nests, and carefully considering how we use pesticides.