would cost the UK £1.8 billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees -
20% more than previously thought - according to new research launched today by
Friends of the Earth as it unveils a new campaign to save the
The new figure - equivalent to the annual wages of 60,000
teachers - comes from research conducted by leading bee experts at the
University of Reading on behalf of the environment charity as it launches The
Bee Cause to call for action on bees before it's too late.
the Earth is also creating a temporary 150 square metre wildflower meadow in the
shadow of the National Theatre, London, to highlight the need for more
bee-friendly habitats - with the flowers used to create the spectacle given away
to passers-by to encourage gardening that will help bees to thrive.
In recent years Britain has lost over half the honey bees kept in
managed hives and wild honey bees are nearly extinct. Solitary bees are
declining in more than half the areas they've been studied and some species of
bumblebee have been lost altogether.
Costly hand-pollination is
already being used in parts of the world, notably pear trees in Hanyuan County,
China, where native bee populations have been wiped out by a combination of loss
of their natural habitat and intensive farming.
Friends of the Earth
is urging David Cameron to save these important pollinators and save the nation
billions by committing to a British bee action plan. The plan outlines action on
the planning of our towns, the way we farm and use pesticides and funding for
nature experts in the Government to ensure vital bee populations are
The charity is also providing information and resources on
how people can help bees in their gardens and communities, including giving away
20,000 packets of wildflower seeds.
To support the call to David
Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit http://www.foe.co.uk/bees .
Paul de Zylva, Nature Campaigner at Friends of the Earth
"Unless we halt the decline in British bees our farmers will
have to rely on hand-pollination, sending food prices rocketing.
"Bees are responsible for most of our favourite fruit and vegetables
so as well as the huge blow to our economy, our diet would also
"David Cameron must make the changes needed now to give our
bees a fighting chance and save Britain billions."