The causes of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) are still in question. While it's surely a combination of factors including climate change and voracious pests like the varoa mite, one of the key suspects is pesticides. Late last year UK farmers demonstrated to demand government action on CCD. While the government may be slow in responding The Cooperative, the UK's largest consumer co-op, has announced Plan Bee, "a campaign to raise awareness about the decline in the British honeybee population," including a temporary ban on the use of eight pesticides from their suppliers. Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative said:
Nature's number one pollinating machine appears to be breaking down and no one knows for sure why. But it's not just pretty gardens that are at stake; one third of the average diet relies on honeybees. Last week the Government finally accepted that there was a problem, however, we are still not seeing any real recognition that pesticides could be a contributory factor. The great thing, though, is that we can all do our bit to turn things around. Whether it's a lush rural retreat or tiny urban window box, we can plant and garden in ways that help the honeybee thrive. At The Co-operative we have more than three million members and we hope to educate and empower them to be ambassadors for Plan Bee.
The ten-point Plan Bee:
1. The Co-operative Food will temporarily prohibit the use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides on own-brand fresh produce. These are Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Fipronil, Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram, Thiacloprid and Thiamethoxam.
2. £150,000 will be made available to support research into the demise of the honeybee, with a particular focus on UK farming, pesticides and gene-diversity. The largest ever private contribution to bee research in the UK.
3. Over three years, The Co-operative Farms will trial a new wildflower seed mix that will be planted alongside crops on its farms across the UK. The Co-operative Farms is the UK's largest farmer with more than 25,000 hectares of land under management.
4. Co-operative Farms will invite beekeepers to establish hives on all Co-operative Farms in the UK.
5. The Co-operative will engage its three million members in a campaign to protect and nurture the bee population in the UK, with advice and tips featuring on its website.
6. Members will be invited to attend one of forty screenings of a special preview from a forthcoming film that addresses the decline of the worldwide bee population and the significance of the bee in food production. In addition, The Co-operative has also commissioned a new bespoke documentary on the decline of the bee population in the UK.
7. The Co-operative will partner with RSPB's "Homes for Wildlife" Team and empower members to garden in ways that are honeybee-friendly.
8. An initial 20,000 packets of wildflower seed mix will be made available to members free of charge.
9. Bee boxes are being sourced and made available to Co-operative members at discounted prices.
10. The Co-operative will support its members and colleagues to find out more about amateur beekeeping and will encourage links between local beekeepers and members.
More on Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder
Sweet News: Organic Bees Are Thriving
Beekeepers Utilize Internet to Fight Mystery 'Disorder'
Saving the Bees
Will Engineering a "Flexi-bee" Save Colonies from Collapse?