6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

Protecting Kent's honeybees

PUBLISHED: 13:37 12 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:37 12 June 2015

Pollinators love nectar-rich flowers

Pollinators love nectar-rich flowers

Archant

Farmers and landowners can all help protect our pollinators, but getting the balance right is vital

Without pollinators, it has been claimed that the world would starve within five years. This sounds dramatic, but it does emphasise the 
huge importance of bees in the food chain.

In Kent, we have seen a range of initiatives to protect bees, including summits organised by Kent County Council and a Plan Bee competition for schools.

Produced in Kent is working on a project to improve bee numbers and honey production. This will help farmers, increase wildflowers, create jobs and reduce imports; at present around 80 per cent of our honey comes from outside the UK.

Given the very significant contribution that the fruit sector makes to our regional rural economy, achieving the right balance between environmental protection and agricultural production is vital.

Pollinators require not only pollen and nectar-rich flowers to provide food, but also shelter and nest sites. Landowners are ideally situated to help provide these through environmental stewardship schemes and voluntary measures such as sowing nectar and pollen-rich wildflower seed mixtures on fallow land, providing buffer strips around fields or managing hedgerows to boost flowering.

CLA works closely with Campaign for the Farmed Environment to encourage members to instigate voluntary measures which support pollinators without adversely affecting agricultural production.

These include encouraging the creation of nesting and resting habitats with flowering plants such as cowslips and poppies that provide the right sources of pollen and nectar. It is vital that this happens not only in the nesting season from March to September, but also early in the year when colonies are being established and later when the pollinators are preparing for hibernation. In Kent, our fruit orchards also have a significant contribution to make, with apple, pear and cherry trees providing rich pickings for pollinators.

The health of pollinators is also linked to the provision of suitable nesting and hibernation sites. Farmers and landowners help by reducing the trimming of hedgerows, which provide good sources of pollen and nectar, from willow catkins, blackthorn and hawthorn in spring to ivy in the autumn.

Hedgerows also provide a wide range of breeding habitats, often at the base, where holes created by mice or tussocky grass provide nesting for bumblebees and solitary bees and rotting vegetation gives food and shelter for hoverfly larvae.

Last November, the Government’s national pollinator strategy was launched to help protect bees and other pollinating insects which support food production and the diversity of our environment.

We work closely with our members to highlight and provide information on greening measures under the CAP reform and Countryside Stewardship, the new agri-environment scheme which provides a level of incentives for land managers to look after their environment. We continue to campaign for help with incentives for farmers and landowners to encourage them to grow plants that provide pollen and nectar sources and nesting habitats.

But we must not underestimate the cost to the landowner of introducing measures which remove areas of land out of active crop production. Over-zealous removal of pesticide products could have a damaging effect on our regional fruit farming industry and any decisions on this must be based on sound scientific evidence.

It’s not just the beauty of the countryside that would be diminished if we allow pollinating insects fall into serious decline; many aspects of our food production will be damaged too. There is a lot at stake. n

More from Out & About

Fri, 16:21

Drink in the sight and smell of our native blooms on one of these wonderful wildflower walks

Read more

Wherever you go in Kent you'll find people just like us pounding the streets, parks and waterways. So why are we all running?

Read more
May 2019

Kent has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit and throughout the open garden season you'll find an array of stunning choices. Here's a selection of our favourites

Read more
April 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kent has many villages that exude historical charm and a traditional village atmosphere beloved by locals and visitors. Here we pick 10 of the prettiest to explore

Read more
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Whether it's a castle, stately country manor house or seafront hotel, Kent has the perfect venue

Read more
May 2019

Close neighbours, one ancient, one modern - meet the very different West Kent neighbours

Read more
May 2019

With its quirky shops, Norman castle, ancient cathedral and riverside setting, even Charles Dickens would agree it doesn't get much better than historic Rochester

Read more
Monday, April 29, 2019

Kent is not only home to many stunning beaches but also has some of the safest and cleanest in the country, many with prestigious Blue Flag status

Read more

From a gentle stroll to admire the flowers to expert-led walks, there's something for every May garden fan to enjoy

Read more
May 2019

Margate has one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it's been packing in the day-trippers for centuries and now boasts added cultural regeneration

Read more
May 2019

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life