The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr John McCann, is proposing a motion to the next meeting of Oldham Council (22 March 2017) calling on the local authority to establish an action plan to help save bees in the Borough.
Cllr McCann explained: “My parents kept bees and they were a common sight in our gardens and countryside. Many of us, however, will be all too aware that sadly their numbers are in decline and that there is a real danger they could become an endangered species or even become extinct. This is down to a number of factors such as disease, climate change, the destruction of habitat because of development or farming, and the use of bee-killing pesticides.”
“But this is not simply about preserving bee numbers for nature’s sake. It is surprising how much we as humans owe to bees for our economy and our health and well-being.”
“Bees play a vital role in our rural economy by pollinating our crops. Calculations made by the University of Reading show that £500 million of total annual crop sales in the UK result from pollination by bees and other insects. The price of many fruits and vegetables would go up without bees as farmers would be forced to hand pollinate crops; the price of British apples could double.”
“Bees provide honey, and bee-pollinated crops are also important sources of Vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium, so their work is vital to our physical health. Many of us also delight in the colours and smells of the flowers that are pollinated by bees, so they play an important role in our mental well-being and our enjoyment of the great outdoors.”
The motion is supported by Cllr Julia Turner: “In recognition of our debt to bees, the last Coalition Government published a National Pollinator Strategy. In our motion, we call on the Council to establish a local bees and pollinators action plan for our Borough which identifies the practical steps we can take as a local authority to help support and increase our local bee population.”
“Our motion lists some of these practical steps such as promoting bee-keeping; establishing more wildflower meadows that bees love; and planting pollinator-friendly plants as recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society, but we also want to engage schools and colleges, social housing providers, other public bodies and the residents of this Borough to support this work by encouraging them to also grow the right plants on the land that they own.”
“One action that our motion specifically identifies is the need to cease using bee-killing insecticides, the neonicotinoids and glyphosate-based products, on our land wherever possible and to encourage the public and our partners to do likewise. Their use has been a significant factor in the decline of bee numbers and there are also real fears that such products are also detrimental to human health so we are calling on the Government to maintain the temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoids and to fund proper research into the hazards of neonicotinoids and glyphosate on human health and the environment.”