The UK is in the midst of a serious bee crisis.
Beekeepers across the country are fighting hard to preserve their crops and keep their businesses afloat, but a growing number are worried that the benefits of pollinating them outweigh the risks.
This is especially true for small-scale beekeepers who rely on bees for their livelihoods.
Beekeeper David Wilson, of the UK Beekeepers Association, said that the UK needs to focus on more pressing matters, like fighting global warming and helping farmers.
“There are other pollinator-related issues we can tackle,” Wilson told Business Insider.
“The fact that we’re in a bee crisis is not the main thing we need to worry about.”
The UK’s honey industry, with around a third of the country’s production, relies heavily on bees to produce its most valuable crop, the golden-coloured nectar that powers many beekeepers’ livelihoods and is also the foundation of the industry’s culture.
Beekeeping was originally introduced to England in the 1600s, and today the industry employs around 1.3 million people across the UK.
However, the honey industry has struggled in recent years due to the arrival of a host of new diseases and pests that have been linked to the pollination process.
“We have the worst honey bee mortality we’ve seen in decades, and our bee numbers have been dropping over the last three decades,” said David Wilson.
“We’re also seeing more diseases in bees than ever before, which is causing more bee deaths and suffering.”
The UK is currently experiencing a severe honey bee crisis, with honey production declining by nearly 40% over the past decade.
The country is also experiencing a shortage of the honey it needs to produce all of the flowers it needs for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Wilson believes that the crisis is a direct result of poor governance.
While the UK has introduced a number of measures to combat the crisis, such as banning pesticides, and introduced new laws on beekeeping, Wilson said the government has done nothing to address the root cause of the crisis.
According to the UK’s Pollination Agency, around 90% of honey bees rely on pollination to keep their colonies alive.
In addition to protecting their colonies, pollinators also help the honeybees and other insects in the UK pollinate many plants and animals.
The pollinators provide the food and honey bees need to live, so the industry is not really about pollination at all.
However, some experts have been warning that the honey bee population is on the brink of collapse due to a range of factors, including climate change and pesticide use.
The most recent UK government figures suggest that beekeepers could lose a third to a quarter of their crops in just the next two decades, with losses occurring as far away as India.
Wilson believes that a ban on pesticides would help the industry and give it a boost.
He believes that introducing a ban would help to restore the UK to its pre-crisis bee population levels, which he said was already very low.
“We need to focus our resources on the very real threats to pollinators, and not just on the potential for a few years’ increase in population,” Wilson said.
“If we can ban the use of pesticides, then we will have a very different scenario.”
Wilson is also concerned about the impact of climate change on the industry.
Currently, there is only one climate change-friendly crop on the UK market.
Even with climate change as a concern, the UK is already facing a serious pollinator crisis.
With the recent introduction of a ban in some areas, Wilson is concerned that the industry will suffer.
“[We need] a moratorium on pesticides, so we can look at other issues like climate change, and the need to develop better solutions for pollinators,” Wilson added.
“Climate change is really, really bad for pollinating bees.”
We are not going to get bees back, Wilson told us.
It’s time we get bees on our agenda, he said.
Bees are the future of the world, and pollinating our crops is crucial to our future prosperity.
Read more about bees in Business Insider’s BeeWatch series: