Let’s Hear It For The Bees

A change from pictures of MasterB in undignified poses tonight. These flowers and budding cherries are all in our garden and I took the photographs yesterday while hoping my boy would climb the tree.


I love this time of year.


I read the other day that the NFU has reapplied for a licence to use an insecticide that kills bees in the UK.


That just doesn’t add up to me. Kill bees, you kill plants, you kill us.


Why would anyone knowingly spray plants with poisons that will kill such a key creature in our survival?


But they do. In parts of the UK agriculture is as far removed from the small family run farms of my youth as they could be.


For some people short term profits will always be more important than the long term outcomes of their actions.


Sometimes I don’t think human beings, for all their amazing abilities and undeniable intelligence, are very clever.


Life v financial gain. Seems a pretty simple decision to me.


Maybe that’s why my bank account is not gold plated.

On the other hand, I do have the flowers.

21 thoughts on “Let’s Hear It For The Bees

  1. Great photos Isobel and very sound words…as Einstein said “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
    and he wasn’t often wrong!!

    • I’d love beehives in the garden. A neighbour was wondering if they could go n the roof of the cycle shed. We have a local beekeeper who has hives distributed around the neighbourhood. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have them here. We could learn so much from him.

  2. Much enjoying your Spring flowers. We on the left coast are having what I am now referring to as Danish weather with the wildflowers strangely ecstatic from the moisture in otherwise deadly dry conditions.

    Endeavoring to draw flowers – yours are much inspiration. Drawing “in the field” is just blowy. Better done from a photo with a beverage at home.

    • Danish weather? I am full of admiration for your sketching efforts. The breezes at this time of year are great, but they do make the plants bob about a lot.

  3. Beautiful flowers, Isobel, and couldn’t agree more about the bees. Let’s hope the NFU doesn’t get that licence. It would be madness!

  4. I hate to be the one to argue about this, but the ban on neonicotinoids in Europe is not because there is a proven link between neonicotinoids and bee death, it’s to INVESTIGATE the suspicion that there may be a link between neonic use and bee death by observing what happens if neonics are not used over a measured period of – I think – two years. Rather stupidly, the ban didn’t start at the beginning of the sowing season, so it won’t give two year’s complete evidence, unfortunately – have forgotten why it didn’t but I suspect there was pressure to start it immediately and bugger the science. When introduced, neonics replaced very toxic chemicals that really were implicated in killing bees and other pollinators, so at the time they were an improvement, not an insane plot to kill pollinators. The amount of neonics involved in damaging bees appears on the face of it to be very much higher than they would actually be exposed to – but awaiting results.

    • This might be interesting to you:
      Dave Goulson. “The science is pretty convincing that neonicotinoids are contributing to bees’ decline, but it’s by no means the worst factor. Most scientists agree it’s habitat loss that is the single biggest driver, with disease and pesticides contributing. Obviously, any pesticide is damaging to wildlife; it’s about finding the right balance between productivity and environmental impact.”
      Governments are fond of talking about joined up thinking while seldom walking the walk. Ensuring that pesticides do not have adverse effects on wildlife and protecting their habitats is the goal to aim for.

  5. Regarding the NFU, I think it’s over-simplistic to assume this is about greed. Only 14% of farms are over 100 acres (admittedly those that are are enormous), so well over 80% of farms are run by people who either do it alone or run another job alongside. The average farm income (most recent figures I’ve found) was £22000. Riches beyond the dreams of avarice, I don’t think.
    The request for an abatement of the ban is actually about the huge increase in flea beetle which has affected the oil seed rape crop since the ban on neonics.
    I don’t know how many of you personally know any farmers. I do. The ones I know are not the ones with enormous estates, they are representatives of the mainstream – medium sized farms of about 100 acres, run by one or two – rarely as many as three – people who work all day and half the night, every day, all year, carry high levels of risk – last year John, who lives next door to my mum, lost 38 lambs to a virus infection – and get squeezed by the supermarkets because we want cheap milk, bread, veg and meat. And we want it now, and we want it regularly and reliably. Hence the requirement, incidentally, for biocides to suppress insect infestation, plant viruses and weeds. If we are all, at all times, prepared to buy nothing but organic produce, then we can feel free to complain about things farmers do to put food on our tables. Provided we are also prepared to eat seasonally only, and when a harvest fails, do without.
    I’m not a member of the countryside alliance, by the way! I live in a city, I work with adult learners including a lot of marginalised people, I buy from supermarkets, and I like organic produce when I can afford it, which is unfortunately not that often. But I grew up in the country and still visit lots of times a year, and there are scientists in the family…

    • I appreciate the time you have taken to comment here.
      I think you can see that with the minimal text this was not a closely argued piece. However, without going into detail of my life or family history, yes, I do have knowledge, including family, one of whom works for the NFU, of farming. I was careful to say that in parts of the country it is not like the farms of my youth.
      Depending on where you are in the UK you get very different types of farm ownership. It is however the case that the big farms are very successful at lobbying the NFU, which is turn is very good at lobbying DEFRA, and the NFU does not have a particularly good track record of looking after the environment.
      I know of farmers who have committed suicide after being paid paltry sums for their produce; others who have committed suicide after the supermarket that had a monopoly option on their crop refused to take it.
      However, my sympathy for individual farmers does not extend to agreeing that they use pesticides that harm bees. Similarly I do not buy eggs laid by caged birds, nor do I buy fruit and veg from southern Spain where crop spraying has caused health problems in the migrant workers who are not protected when it is used.
      Like you I grew up in the country. A countryside where there was more biodiversity than there is today. The demand for cheap food has put an enormous and terrible burden on farmers and the land. It is, I believe, time to recognise the cost of such food is a compromised and poisoned future.

    • I wasn’t so much responding to you personally in the post about the NFU as to the comment by Lucid Gypsy who assumed greed as the motivation in requesting an abatement of the ban. I do agree that the farming ownership picture is diverse. And I realised after posting that I wasn’t trying to say that no activities by farmers should be criticised – but couldn’t work out how to amend or withdraw the comment. I too do not buy eggs laid by caged birds and avoid eating intensively farmed meat – I wasn’t aware of the situation in Spain so will look at that.
      It’s really problematic how to minimise risk to wildlife and pollinators and increase diversity in a world where non-organic, chemically dependent farming is in the majority. I get a bit panicked by outcries to ban single chemical groups, when the alternative may be that farmers will revert to worse practices and more toxic chemicals – the best turning out to be the enemy of the good. Your quote from David Coulson sums it up very well. But I’ll shut up now and I promise not to rant again!

      • Rants are fine. You know you can reply to an individual comment by clicking on the reply link beside it.
        Remember to avoid eating duck unless you know it has been raised in a humane environment. Duck farming ranks high in the cruelty stakes.

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