Reader letter: Help bee population to thrive

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The last few years have seen increasing public concern for the health of our nation’s bees.

UK bee populations have fallen by 30 per cent since 2007, while more than four out of five plant species in Europe are believed to depend on pollination by bees - including over three quarters of our food production.

Farming is an important part of the East Midlands economy and any threat to our bee population could have serious effects on the region.

After evidence emerged that pesticides could be a major cause behind declining populations, a temporary EU ban was announced on three pesticides while evidence is further examined. Labour MEPs were strong supporters of this ban, and will be closely scrutinising any developments. Members of the public played an important role in this debate, and helped us to make the case for protecting Europe’s bees in the face of heavy industry lobbying. Thank you to all of my constituents who took the time to write to me.

Readers can help the bees in other ways too, and can take action much closer to home.

With the wild flower meadows decreasing, private gardens are increasingly important habitats for our bees. A study by the University of Northampton found more than 50 species of bee in a small urban area, showing just how important our gardens are.

By having even a few potted plants, you can really make a difference to the survival of these much needed insects.

Meanwhile, the Slovenian Beekeeping Association is campaigning for May 20 to be declared World Bee Day. This would be a great way to keep bee health on the political agenda, and I hope we can celebrate a thriving European bee population this time next year.

Glenis Willmott

Labour MEP for the East Midlands