LEAF Guid­ance notes on pol­li­nat­ing insects and bees

These guid­ance notes set out the views of LEAF on the decline of pol­li­nat­ing insects and in par­tic­u­lar the sud­den and dra­mat­ic fall of hon­ey bee pop­u­la­tions and its poten­tial threat to agri­cul­ture. They also pro­vide some prac­ti­cal points on min­imis­ing impacts asso­ci­at­ed with farm­ing activ­i­ties, plus cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing wildlife habi­tats for pol­li­nat­ing insects.

Pollination, the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, is critical to fruit and seed production, and is regularly provided by insects and other animals on the hunt for nectar, pollen or other floral rewards. In doing so, pollinating insects perform a vital ecological and economic role. It is estimated that pollinating insects contribute £200 million to UK agriculture, pollinating key crops such as top and soft fruit, field, runner and broad beans, oilseed rape and linseed crops. Therefore pollinating insects and in particular honey bees are of paramount importance to meeting modern agriculture’s peak pollination requirements. Graminae species e.g maize, cereals, rice etc have no insect pollinating requirement as they are wind pollinated.

Dramatic declines in managed honey bee populations (so-called Colony Collapse Disorder) both globally and in particular throughout North America have been reported over the last 3 years. Recently published evidence in the UK suggests that the number of insect pollinators have fallen. The British Bee Keepers Association (2009) reported almost a 20% decline by the end of the 2008/09 winter which followed a 33% fall in honey bee colonies by the end of the winter 2007/08. The potential impact of these declines on agriculture may yet to be realised.

Read full statement here.

Here is a link to LEAF’s guide to pollinating insects for farmers.