Following a campaign by Friends of the Earth, Buglife and the Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon County Council councillors have voted to ban the use of neonicotinoid (neonics) insecticides on land they control.
Neonics are groups of systemic pesticides which are applied as a seed dressing meaning that the insecticide is taken up by the plant tissue and can then be ingested by non target species such as bees and other pollinators. Buglife have been campaigning for many years now to get neonics banned as there is now a substantial body of evidence shows that their use has caused declines in bee populations – see here and here.
Well done Devon County Council! Whilst this step on its own will not remove the threat to bees across Britain it does send a message which others elsewhere will hopefully now heed.
Neonics don’t just impact on honey bees they can also affect bumblebees and solitary bees (along with many other species of pollinating insects). Many of these species are now in serious decline across the country – not just because of pesticide use but also because of habitat change and the loss of wild flowers. However gardens are important places for many species of bee now and as individuals we can do a lot to encourage, support and protect bees. Flowers in our gardens attract lots of insects and we can help bees by providing nesting sites for them. I have recently acquired a bee hotel to do just that.
The holes (either short sections of bamboo or holes drilled into pieces of untreated wood) are of different sizes to suit different species. You can make a bee hotel yourself (see here) or buy one.
I will report back over the summer to let you know whether my bee hotel is being used!