We were so pleased to come across this important new campaign to save our bees.

#StandByBees is a campaign to cut the use of hazardous pesticides and promote nature-friendly farming in the UK, to protect our pollinators and the British countryside.

Excessive pesticide use is killing our bees and other essential insect species that we rely on for a healthy environment. Insect numbers are in major decline around the world, with recent research showing that in the UK alone, flying insects have declined by nearly 70% since 1970. This is a tragic and serious number of deaths and loss.

We should all know by now that pollinators are vital to growing the foods we eat every day and maintaining our delicate ecosystem. A single teaspoon of neonicotinoid, a type of pesticide widely used on crops for many years, is enough to deliver a lethal dose to 1.25 billion bees.

In 2018, the UK government banned neonicotinoid pesticides due to the harmful impact they were having on bees and other pollinators. Yet, in both 2020 and 2021, the government acted to authorise their emergency use on crops, against the advice of its own scientific advisors and despite the risks this posed.

Thiamethoxam belongs to a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoids (neonics). These chemicals are widely used throughout the world. But in 2018, the most toxic ones, including thiamethoxam, were banned from all outdoor use in the EU and UK, because of the overwhelming evidence of the harm they cause to bees and other pollinators.

Bess suffer horrifically when posioned with the neonics – twitching or paralysis of flight muscles and a failure in the homing behaviour of foragers, resulting in less available food for the colony. A single exposure is enough to significantly damage the ability of reproduction of future generations of bees. Widespread environmental contamination is also common, with neonics leaching into the soil, contaminating groundwater and also affecting aquatic ecosystems.

If neonics are banned, why are they still in use?

The existence of “emergency derogation” is the loophole that allows their use, which means that if the danger of a virus can’t be stopped any other way, then pesticides can be used temporarily. British Sugar, for example, continually exerts pressure to allow the use of Thiamethoxam to control aphids in some circumstances – by seed-dressing the beet. But only 5% of the pesticide actually reaches the crop, the rest accumulates in the soil. This means the toxic chemical reaches other soil-dwelling creatures and is also absorbed by the roots of wildflowers and hedgerow plants that are visited by bees. (source: https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/02/28/uk-government-secretly-grants-use-of-bee-killing-pesticides-breaking-international-laws)

How Can You Help Bees?

#StandByBees has set up a petition to the government to cut hazardous pesticides and support nature-friendly farming. Once the signatures reach 100,00 the matter will be considerred for debate in parliament.

You can also write to your MP – #StandByBees have set up a letter you can use to send to your own MP

Finally, just keep spreading the word about neonics. Educate yourself on them and how pesticides can still be used and tell others. People power can help stop the use of dangerous pesticides in our countryside. Our bees and our environment cannot afford to be destroyed any more.

(Illustrated images courtesy of Stand By Bees)

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