The Co-operative today (April 12) launched an ambitious project to instigate a series of “Bee Roads” across the country which will act as food-rich main routes for pollinators.
As part of its extended £750,000 Plan Bee campaign, The Co-operative will help identify and convert corridors of land to create and secure habitats for pollinators.
By encouraging and supporting landowners to create wildflower meadows, the Bee Roads will promote species such as Lesser Knapweed, Field Scabious, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Red Clover, which are becoming increasingly rare in the British countryside. These wildflowers will offer a rich habitat for a host of pollinators such as honeybees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths to find the nectar and pollen they need.
The Co-operative and its partner Buglife will create the first Bee Roads in Yorkshire, where farmers and other landowners will sow wildflowers in two long rows that will eventually stretch north to south and east to west across the county.
By demonstrating the benefits of reinstating 5 hectares of lost wildflower meadows in Yorkshire, it is hoped this £60,000 pilot project will be emulated in other counties across the country, reversing the decline in pollinator numbers.
Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative said: “The UK has lost an alarming 97 per cent of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s and this has had a major impact on pollinator numbers. The number of honeybees in the UK has halved in the last 25 years, and three quarters of butterfly species and two thirds of moths have seen population declines since the 1970’s.
“Given that honeybees alone pollinate a third of the food we eat, a further decline in their numbers could have a devastating impact on our diets in the long run.”
“By setting up these ‘Bee Roads’ we hope to make life easier for all pollinators and reverse their alarming decline.”
In recognition of the key role that wildflower habitats play in sustaining pollinators, The Co-operative’s Plan Bee is also giving away a further 300,000 packets of wildflower seeds in 2011.
Plan Bee, also includes supporting the native British bee, encourages the growth of urban beekeeping and takes action on pesticide usage and is an integral part of The Co-operative’s Ethical Operating Plan which was launched in February.
Plan Bee is an on-going campaign, worth over £750,000, to help reverse the decline of the UK honeybee population and other at risk pollinators such as bumblebees, butterflies and moths. Plan Bee focuses on four key areas:
Taking action on our farms
The Co-operative Farms will increase the number of hives on its farmland from 400 to 1,300 and seek to utilise northern European strains of honeybee where possible.
Funding new scientific research
The Co-operative will fund new scientific research into the effects of pesticides on bees, and the mapping and breeding of native bees.
Engaging our customers and members
The Co-operative helps its customers and members to become pollinator-friendly gardeners, with advice and tips, through the Plan Bee campaign and on the Plan Bee website. In addition, The Co-operative will distribute a further 300,000 packets of free wild flower seeds to Co-operative members and customers bringing the total distributed to 900,000.
The Co-operative supports its members to take up beekeeping, and has established urban beekeeping training projects in Manchester, London, Inverness, Mid Antrim and Sheffield.
Taking action on pesticides
The Co-operative Food will continue with its temporary prohibition on the use of six neonicotinoid-based pesticides on own-brand fresh and frozen produce, which was introduced in 2009.
Read more about The Co-operative’s Ethical Plan.
The Co-operative Group Press Office
Tel: 0161 827 5614
Mob: 07702 152771