Source: Oldham Chronicle, UK
Reporter: Janice Barker
Date online: 23/07/2009
Oldham Euro-MP Chris Davies has a bee in his bonnet about the endangered insects.

He used his first question of the new term at the European Parliament to highlight the alarming decline of British bees.

In the last two years bee numbers have dropped by around 30 per cent and the Government recently announced funding of around £2 million to study the decline.

Liberal Democrat Mr Davies wants the European Commission to consider banning insecticides called neonicotinoids, used to protect plants from insects. Its use has been linked to bees dying, and led to severe restrictions in France and Germany. Mr Davies said: “The Commission needs to consider a ban on these chemicals before the bee decline starts showing up in food shortages.

“Better to take action now as a precaution than risk the destruction of bee colonies because we left it too late.

“Protecting the environment isn’t just about the big visible changes like the melting ice in Greenland or the pollution in our atmosphere, it’s also about protecting the tiny creatures who keep our plants growing and our world running.”

Bees are believed to contribute £120 million per year in direct economic benefits to Britain by pollinating commercial crops.

About a third of food comes from plants pollinated by them. Scientists are trying to discover the reasons why bees have been disappearing in large numbers. Many studies focus on the varroa mite parasite that weakens colonies by feeding on bees.

Neonicotinoids are less studied despite evidence from Germany and France in particular that they can cause bee colony numbers to collapse.