Issuu on Google+

This fact sheet looks at how farmers, gardeners and land managers can modify their practices to provide more food and water sources and improve habitat quality for for these insects. It highlights how moving to more bee-friendly practices can deliver other benefits too – for wildlife and for people.

Credit: Stephanie Williamson, PAN UK

Bee-friendly practices in farming The transformation of the farming landscape and practices over the last two generations has had profound impacts on wildlife and wild flowers. More intensive, specialised systems, aiming for high yield outputs through increased use of agrochemical, fossil fuel and other inputs, have contributed to the loss of many habitats and landscape features, natural resource degradation and decline of useful

biodiversity across Europe1. The intensification trend has also reduced landscape elements (e.g. hedgerows, ponds) and enlarged farm and field sizes2. However, there are several practical measures that farmers of all types can take to help restore ecological balance, by providing more resources for pollinating insects and reducing harm from pesticides. The following aspects mainly concern conventional farmers as organic systems tend to be much better for pollinators, however some of the

Bee Declines & Pesticides factsheet 7

Pesticide Action Network UK Opportunities to expand and improve pollinator habitats


actions like expanding habitat can enhance all types of farming systems. Expanding natural habitat on and around the farm: Leaving small uncultivated areas for wildlife can make a real difference to the abundance and the diversity of plants and animals on farmland. More farmers now leave grassy margins along field borders, rather than cultivating right up to the edge, while awkward field corners and unproductive areas on the farm can be left as a more natural habitat. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) experts recommend a minimum of 5% of farm surface (excluding forested areas) to be managed as an ‘ecological infrastructure’, without agrochemical inputs3. The aim is not only to enhance wild flowers and fauna but to also conserve valuable ‘natural enemies’ (such as predator ladybirds, hoverflies, ground beetles and parasitic wasps) of insect pests, contributing free pest control services to the farmer. Bees need a varied landscape to maintain healthy colonies. Countryside where crops are interspersed with hedges and wooded zones, where wetlands and flower-rich grassland can still flourish, adds aesthetic value to the landscape as well as pollinator well-being4. Setting up ‘ecological compensation areas’ in pasture can enhance pollinator diversity in grassland livestock farming too5. Numerous options exist for farmers under EU-supported agri-environment schemes to farm with wildlife in mind . In the UK, these are organised under the Entry Level (ELS) and Higher Level Stewardship schemes. Some of these management practices have been shown to boost abundance and diversity of


wild bees by providing more flowering and nesting resources6. Apart from the specific bee conservation option of sowing nectar flower mixes (see below), other options beneficial for pollinators include: sowing wild bird seed mix strips; low agrochemical input grassland; natural, uncropped field margins; and upland traditional hay meadow management. Expanding crop rotations and adding legumes: Searching for suitable food sources, honeybees travel a foraging radius of around 3 km from their hive, equating to a foraging area of 30 km2 7. Yet the range of suitably varied flowers in farmed landscapes has dropped enormously with the trend to larger field sizes and reduced variety of arable crops. Monoculture field patterns comprising mainly maize, wheat and a few other cereals are common across Europe and lead to reduced quality, quantity and diversity of the nectar and pollen diet available for bees8. The result is a few weeks of abundant pollinator food when the crop is in flower, followed by a

“Bees are reaching their tipping e point because they ar in an expected to perform le world” increasingly inhospitab

costly synthetic fertiliser. Using less fertiliser of will also reduce nitrate Marla Spivak, University pollution of groundwater, Minnesota, & colleagues, seasona major problem in many USA long intensively farmed river basins. dearth9. More legume cultivation would Studies help address one of the seriously show that a nutritious unsustainable aspects of current European and diverse diet from livestock production, highly dependent foraging different plant on imported protein crops. Europe species is needed to imports 30 million tonnes of soyabean keep bee pollinator flour per year to feed its animals14. These 10,11 populations healthy . imports exert an unacceptable ecological ‘footprint’ in South America, where most Expanded rotations of the soya is grown. The industrial scale can improve pollinator dit: Stephanie Williamson, PAN UK and practices of soya cultivation has foraging opportunities, destroyed millions of hectares of forest especially if more nutritious and beeand grasslands and its intensive pesticide favoured legume crops (peas, beans) use poisons communities living nearby15,16. are added. Legumes are generally very Soya expansion by agri-business has important for honey production, both pushed out thousands of family farmers in quantity and quality. Cover crops, in South America from their land17. By such as clover and alfalfa, can also be growing more legumes here, European included within the rotation for reliable farmers could regain control of their sources of pollen and nectar. More feed ingredients, contribute to lower diverse crop rotations assist in preventing greenhouse gas emissions (from reduced and suppressing pest, disease and weed use of fertiliser) and help family farmers problems (see factsheet 6) and form the in South America to cultivate food crops first general principle of Integrated Pest again and protect their natural resources18. Management in the EU’s Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive12. The European Reducing herbicide use: Parliament has urged for more legume Between 1990 and 2006, the herbicidecrops, mixed cropping within fields, cover treated area in the UK increased by cropping and ecological infrastructure 38%19. In 2010, over 22 million hectares areas to be at the heart of the EU of British farmland received applications. Common Agricultural Policy reform due This growing reliance on herbicides in 201413. has profound effects on farmland plant Legume plants ‘fix’ nitrogen from the communities, with diversity of wild plants air into the soil, increasing nutrients in agricultural fields and field margins available for subsequent crops. Adding declining, especially in infertile grassland more legumes into farming systems can and hedge bottoms. Some weed species therefore help farmers’ bottom line by are now threatened with extinction in enhancing soil fertility and reducing use of



Britain20. In the US this trend has been exacerbated by the widespread cultivation of GM crops resistant to herbicides, as increased herbicide spraying takes a heavy toll on arable non-target flora21. Herbicide reliance impacts pollinators indirectly by reducing the diversity and abundance of their floral food resources. For butterfly and moth pollinators whose caterpillars feed only on specific host plants, reduction in these species’ presence can threaten the insects’ survival in some areas. Herbicides themselves are generally considered harmless to bees although a few may cause sublethal effects on adult bees or disrupt brood development22,23. There could also be synergistic interactions between herbicide residues found in hives, the effect of neonicotinoids and bee susceptibility to parasites and disease (see factsheet 3). Sowing nectar-rich flowers: Loss of the traditional farmland flowers found in less intensive farming systems has led to a 75% decline in butterflies and bumblebees in the UK. To improve environmental stewardship the UK Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) scheme subsidises farmers undertaking specific practices to increase flowering plants attractive to bees and butterflies: • sowing borders of mixed nectar-rich wildflowers • sowing wildflowers in field headlands • c reating pollen and nectar flower mixtures in horticultural cropping systems Research shows that farmers who plant nectar floral mixes at field edges, rather

“Over the five years s [of this study], farmer created who had been trained habitat in better quality wildlife ces for bees terms of flower resour is translated into and seeds for birds.Th et species of birds local increases in targ and bees”

than grass

ntre for James Bullock, NERC Ce RELU Ecology & Hydrology, & research colleagues, UK

margins, can attract up to 14 times as many bumblebees24. Several farming sector-led initiatives encourage more farmers to take up these options, yet less than 0.1% of total farm area under ELS agreements has these so far25. Challenges include tailoring general prescriptions for flower mixture sowing to the situation of each farm, achieving good germination and flowering of the plants over several seasons and ensuring the best management to enhance pollinator foraging. Better uptake of these agri-environment schemes also requires more farmer training and effort to explain the concepts and motivate farmers26. Other resources for pollinators: Bees need a lot of water for rearing their brood and maintaining a healthy hive. Worker bees will collect water from lakes, ponds and puddles; morning dew; and liquid droplets exuded from young plants. It is therefore crucial that pollinators have access to clean water on or around farms, which is free from pesticide contamination or other pollutants. Certain wild pollinators need undisturbed nesting and foraging habitat, making them very susceptible to habitat degradation and fragmentation27. Wild bees may dig


nest holes in the ground, use cavities in trees, tunnel into plant stems, or collect mud, resin, foliage and plant fibres to construct their nests28. Good hedgerow management and leaving natural vegetation and undisturbed spots around the farm contribute to improved nesting habitat for these species29. Reducing reliance on pesticides in general: Phasing out hazardous pesticides and shifting to ecologically-informed Integrated Pest Management strategies is now endorsed by many global institutions and think-tanks30,31. Using IPM methods rather than current excessive levels of pesticide applications will support pollination services and more sustainable pest management, by avoiding harm to the beneficial insects which help control pests32.

“If biodiversity is to be restored in Europe and opportunities are to be created for crop production ut ilizing biodiversity-based ec osystem services such as biological pest control, there must be a Europe-wide shift towards farming with minimal use of pe sticides over large areas” Flavia Geiger, University of Wageningen, Netherland s& colleagues

Parks & other open spaces Parks, rail and roadside verges, golf courses, football pitches and council playing fields, common land, urban paved

areas, car parks, school yards, cemeteries and ‘brownfield’ industrial sites are all open-air spaces in which pollinators may be present. As in farmland, managers of many of these open spaces may apply neonicotinoids and other pesticides for pest control in what is termed the ‘amenity’ sector. They therefore offer opportunities for becoming more ‘beefriendly’ by reducing pesticide use and by changes in management practices to improve pollinator habitat33. Herbicides are often used to clear waste ground, industrial sites, railway lines and roadside embankments and this can negatively affect forage opportunities, by reducing flowering plant abundance. Several local authories have set pesticide reduction targets and gained IPM experience on methods to reduce reliance on pesticides34,35. Bee-friendly wildflowers can be sown on roadside and other transport routes, adding visual appeal for people too. These plantings provide corridors for pollinator movement, a refuge from pesticide-contaminated cropland, help reduce soil erosion and deliver lower roadside management costs36. Technical advice is needed for land managers as habitat guidelines will vary across regions and the type of open space and its uses. General advice is to include at least three different plant species that flower at different times of year and cluster single species into groups to increase pollinator foraging efficiency. The BBC TV programme Bees, Butterflies and Blooms (presented by gardener Sarah Raven) featured case studies of local councils’ efforts37. Measures include changing planting designs in municipal parks to put in more flowers attractive


to bees and creating flowering ‘minimeadows’ in grassed areas. The public have been enthusiastic about the results and meadow creation can also cut down on lawn mowing, saving money for cashstrapped councils. A video clip shows the beautiful meadows sown around the London Olympic Games sites.

Gardens Many pesticides for garden pest control contain neonicotinoids - something that gardeners may not be aware of. Our website lists UK pesticide products for ornamental and amateur uses which contain neonicotinoids (http://www. Gardeners and homeowners can help reduce risk to pollinators by avoiding pesticide application around plants in flower or in areas where bees are nesting. The best course of action for gardeners, for whom pest damage is cosmetic rather than economic, is to stop using pesticides at all38,39,40. Consumers can also demand that garden centres stop using neonicotinoids on pot plants in nurseries. More information and links to useful resources are given on our bees webpages.

and schools to encourage bee-friendly practices in private gardens and public spaces. They offer training on beekeeping and support to market high quality urban honey. Their efforts include the 250 wild bee species that also need looking after. The Urban Pollinators project surveys the diversity and abundance of bee species in four UK cities, collecting data from gardens, parks, road verges, allotments, churchyards and cemeteries41. The aim is to find out which habitat types are best for pollinators and how these habitats can be expanded and improved. Urban habitats can be surprisingly important for pollinators, for example, 35% of the British hoverfly species were found to visit just a single garden in Leicester. In Edinburgh, the project is creating wildflower meadows in parks and schools, trialling different meadow types, comprising annual and perennial species42.

Aiming for countrywide impact, Buglife’s B-Lines project is to improve habitat ‘connectivity’- sowing wide strips of permanent wildflower-rich grassland to join up fragments of habitat so that pollinators can disperse more easily across the countryside43.The project attempts to redress the loss of 3 million hectares of flower-rich grassland in Britain since the 1940s due to agricultural intensification Landscape level collaboration and urban and industrial development.The plan is to create over 150,000 hectares Projects are underway across the UK to of pollinator habitat, make urban areas more pollinatorworking with farmers, friendly. Pioneers such as Bee other landowners Guardians “There are not and wildlife enough blooming organisations, and the London Capital Bee flowers over the lengt h starting with a of the growing season project in our pilot phase in agricultural and urba work n landscapes Yorkshire. with local communities to supp ort bees”

Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota, & colleagues, USA


Key points • Farmers can reduce harm to pollinators by avoiding the use of beetoxic pesticides and reducing use of herbicides which eliminate flowering plants in field margins. • E xpanding crop rotations, especially with legumes, leaving more uncultivated areas and sowing floral field strips increases habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. • A voiding use of pesticides in private gardens should be promoted, favouring organic gardening. • P lanting bee-favourite plants in gardens, parks and open spaces can expand pollinator foraging in urban landscapes. • Shifting to more bee-friendly practices delivers other benefits, environmental and economic, to farmers, local authorities and society.

References 1. EEB et al. (2011) The Truth behind the CAP: 13 reasons for green reform. European Environmental Bureau, Birdlife International, Butterfly Conservation Europe, Europarc Federation, European Forum on Nature Conservation & Pastoralism, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, IFOAM EU group, PAN Europe and WWF.Via: 11&Agriculture=1 2. Geiger, F et al. (2010) Persistent negative effects of pesticides on biodiversity and biological control potential on European farmland. Basic & Applied Ecology 11 97–105 doi:10.1016/j. baae.2009.12.001 3. IOBC/WPRS (2012) Integrated Pest Management. Design and application of feasible and effective strategies. International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC).Available via PAN Europe: 4. PAN Europe (2010a) Integrated Production and Bee-friendly Practices exhibition for PAN Europe Alternatives to Pesticides Week 2010, presented at the European Parliament.Via: http://www. 5.Albrecht, M, Duelli, P, Müller, C, Kleijn, D and Schmid, B. (2007) The Swiss agri-environment scheme enhances pollinator diversity and plant reproductive success in nearby intensively managed farmland. J Appl. Ecol 44 (4) 813-822 6. Breeze,TD, Roberts, SPM and Potts, SG. (2012) The decline of England’s bees. Policy review and recommendations. University of Reading, UK, and Friends of the Earth.Via: beesreport 7. PAN Europe, op.cit.4

8. EP (2011) Report on honeybee health and the challenges of the beekeeping sector (2011/2108 (INI)) Committee on Agriculture & Rural Development, European Parliament.Via: http://www.europarl. 9. Spivak, M., Mader, E.,Vaughan, M. and Eulis, N.H. (2011) The Plight of the Bees. Environmental Science & Technology 45 34-38. Via: es101468w 10. Eischen F.A. and Graham R.H. (2008) Feeding overwintering honey bee colonies infected with Nosema ceranae. In: Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference,Amer. B. Jour. 148 555. 11. Alaux, C., Brunet, J-L., and Dussaubat, C. (2010) Interactions between Nosema Microspores and a Neonicotinoid Weaken Honeybees (Apis Mellifera). Environmental Microbiology 12 (3) 774-782

In this series If you would like to find out more about the relationship between pesticides and pollinator declines, all of these leaflets and other info are available via PAN UK’s bee webpages at: Bee Declines and the Link with Pesticides. Summary leaflet. Fact sheets: 1. Different routes of pesticide exposure 2. Sub-lethal and chronic effects of neonicotinoids on bees and other pollinators 3. Serious shortcomings in assessing risks to pollinators 4. Different regulatory positions on neonicotinoids across Europe 5. Can restrictions on systemic insecticides help restore bee health? 6. What could farmers do to rely less on neonicotinoids? 7. Opportunities for improving and expanding pollinator habitats 8. Action on neonicotinoid and other beetoxic pesticides


References continued 12. EU (2009) Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. European Union.Via: do?uri=OJ:L:2009:309:0071:0086:EN:PDF 13. EP, op.cit.8 14. PAN Europe, op.cit.4 15. Souza, J. (2008) GM soya expansion fuels endosulfan use in Argentina. Pesticides News 80 7-9.Via: pestnews/Issue/pn80/pn807-9.pdf 16.Williamson, S. (2008) Rural communities in Paraguay endangered by soya pesticides. Pesticides News 81 12-15.Via: http://www.pan-uk. org/pestnews/Issue/pn81/pn81_p12-15.pdf 17. FoEE (2010) How the CAP is causing soy expansion and deforestation in South America. Briefing paper, Friends of the Earth Europe, Brussels.Via: cap_causing_soy_expansion_in_south_america1.pdf 18. Dutch Soy Coalition (2011) Soy: Big Business, Big Responsibility. Addressing the social- and environmental impact of the soy value chain. Dutch Soy Coalition, Netherlands.Via: http:// 19. Fera (2009) Pesticide Usage Statistics:Tables 2009. Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), UK.Via: uk/index.cfm 20. Preston, C.D.,Telfer, M.G.,Arnold, H.R., Carey, RD., Cooper, J.M., Dines,T.D., Hill, M.O., Pearman, D.A., Roy, D.B. & Smart , S.M. (2002) The changing flora of the UK. DEFRA, London. 21. Johnson, RM., Ellis, MD, Mullin, CA and Frazier,M. (2010) Pesticides and Honey Bee Toxicity – USA.Apidologie 41 (3) 312-31. 22. Papaefthimiou, C., Pavlidou,V., Gregorc,A. and Theophilidis, G. (2002) The action of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid on the isolated heart of insect and amphibia. Environ.Toxicol. Pharmacol. 11 127–140 23. Burlew, DA. (2010) The Effects of Pesticide-Contaminated Pollen on Larval Development of the Honey Bee,Apis mellifera. Thesis submitted for Master of Environmental Study, Evergreen State College, USA. 24. Natural England (2009) Farming for farm wildlife. Make the most of Environmental Stewardship and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. Natural England.Via: 25. Breeze et al., op.cit.6 26. RELU (2012) Improving the success of agri-environment initiatives. RELU Policy & Practice Notes 37, Rural Economy & Land Use Programme, Centre for Rural Economy, University of Newcastle.Via: 27. UNEP (2010) Emerging Issues: Global Honey Bee Colony Disorder and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators. United Nations Environment Program, Geneva.Via: Portals/67/pdf/Global_Bee_Colony_Disorder_and_Threats_insect_

pollinators.pdf 28. Hopwood, J,Vaughan, M, Shepherd, M, Biddinger, D, Mader,E, Hoffman Black, S and Mazzacano, C. (2012) Are neonicotinoids killing bees? A review of research into the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on bees, with recommendations for action. Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, USA. 29. Buglife (2007) Gardening for bumblebees. Buglife.Via: http:// 30. IAASTD (2009) Agriculture at the Crossroads. International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science & Technology for Development.Via: 31. FAO (2011) Save and Grow: Guide for policy makers. Food & Agriculture Organisation, Rome.Via: 32. Geiger et al., op.cit.2 33. BBCT (undated) Managing brownfield and industrial land… for bumblebees. Land Management factsheet 9, Bumblebee Conservation Trust.Via: 34. LBC (undated) Pesticide Reduction Policy. Parks Department, London Borough of Camden, UK.Via: t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CFEQFjAA&u download%2Fasset%3Fasset_id%3D738239&ei=gDUNUOWBI6XG0 QXTpeTXCg&usg=AFQjCNHStGprNT_wMFl9cejGvEUUMgMGlg 35. PAN Europe (2010b) NAP best practice. Sustainable Use of Pesticides: implementing a National Action Plan. PAN Europe, Brussels.Via: http:// 36. Spivak et al., op.cit.9 37. BBC (2012) Bees, Butterflies and Blooms. BBC2 TV series presented by Sarah Raven.Via: b013pw23/episodes/guide 38. Spivak et al., op.cit.9 39. Buglife, op.cit.29 40. Bee Guardians (undated) Bee gardening. Bee Guardians.Via: http:// bee-gardening/index.html 41. University of Bristol (2012) Urban Pollinators: ecology and conservation. University of Bristol.Via: biology/research/ecological/community/pollinators/ 42. ECC (2012) Wildlife conservation and biodiversity. Urban Pollinators Project. Edinburgh City Council.Via: http://www. conservation_and_biodiversity/5 43. Buglife (2011) B-lines project. Buglife.Via: http:// Habitats+Action/B-Lines

PAN UK’s vital work in the UK and in developing countries Pesticide Action Network UK is a registered charity dedicated to:• Eliminating the most hazardous pesticides, • Reducing dependence on chemical pesticides, • Promoting sustainable and equitable food systems and increasing the use of alternatives to chemical pest control in agriculture, urban areas, public health and homes and gardens

make a decent living without putting their own health, their families or their environment at risk. Populations of bees and other insect pollinators have fallen dramatically in recent years. The reasons for these declines are complex and wide ranging, but there is little doubt that pesticides are playing a key part. PAN UK has prepared these fact sheets to cut through the confusion and provide an up-to date and balanced explanation of the role of pesticides in pollinator declines. To find out more and what you can do, please visit

In the UK, we campaign for tighter regulatory controls on pesticides and encourage retailers to tackle pesticide problems in their supply chains. We provide advice on alternative ways to control pests and work with local communities to reduce public exposure to pesticides. In the developing world, we raise awareness about pesticide hazards and train farmers in organic and low input agricultural techniques to help them to

PAN UK, Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4LT

Published by Pesticide Action Network UK. September 2012

Tel: 44 (0)20 7065 0905,,

Pesticide Action Network UK - Bee Factsheet 7