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The bee-friendly spider venom pesticide

We must safeguard our bees

The decline of the bee population has been in the news for a few years now. The cause of the decline has been attributed to numerous causes including climate change, pesticides, and a large reduction in flower rich grasslands. Bees play a key role in our food production, pollinating a number of commercial crops including strawberries, peas, apples, and tomatoes, and without their contribution we may see large increases in the cost of fruit and vegetables.

Earlier in June it was announced that researchers at Newcastle University have developed a pesticide from the venom of the Australian funnel-web spider, which kills insects, but does not harm bees. Common pesticides, neonicotinoids, are believed to attack the nervous system of bees, preventing them from locating pollen and finding their way back to the hive.

Dr Geraldine Wright from the University of Newcastle’s Honeybee lab said: “If we destroy the biodiversity of pollinators then it will be irrelevant how effective our pesticides are because we won’t have any crops to protect. There is now substantial evidence linking neonicotinoid pesticides to poor performance and survival in bees, and what we need now is a clear directive from government to develop and introduce bee-safe alternatives.”

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has also been working with farmers to implement changes to their techniques which allow more flowers to bloom. We at home can also work to help bumblebees in our own communities. Fill the garden with bee friendly plants, and join the bee survey.

Let’s help bees thrive in Britain once again!