There are as many as 20,000 amateur beekeepers across the UK - and Lancaster has its own active Lancaster Beekeepers group.
Last year the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss MP, agreed to let farmers use banned neonicotinoid bee-harming pesticides – despite the overwhelming evidence that they are toxic to bees.
Despite predictions of widespread crop losses without the use of neonics proving unfounded, the National Farmers’ Union applied to use them again this year. But they have been turned down, and a report funded by Friends of the Earth supporters was referenced in the decision.
The decision has, however, been shrouded in secrecy and campaigners are still being kept in the dark over the evidence submitted. The National Farmers Union is also likely to submit a new application in coming weeks.
"This is all part of something bigger – a wider movement against neonics that we’re all part of," commented a delighted FOE campaigner, praising those who have argued the case for a ban. "From persuading Devon County Council to ban the use of neonics on its land, to pressuring supermarket chain Aldi to keep them out of its products or asking your MP to speak up for bees in Parliament – it all adds up. Whatever you’ve done to help our bees, thank you.
"Right now we’re winning, but it’s not over yet," she cautioned. "The scientific evidence that neonics harm bees is overwhelming (plus there is now some evidence they threaten butterflies, birds and even earthworms too). But whilst the use of some neonics might be restricted across Europe the Government can grant exemptions to those rules."
Defra is trying to make sure that they are aware of the need to alert the National Bee Unit (NBU) to bee health problems and encourage them to register on BeeBase, its database of beekeepers. This will help ensure that new or existing health problems are identified.
Friends of the Earth is running a national bee count next week (19th May) until 30th June 2016.
• Lancaster Beekeepers: www.lancaster-beekeepers.org.uk
• Find out more about the National Bee Unit's Healthy Bees Plan
• Join in with the FOE National Bee Count
• Back the Friends of the Earth campaign to help save bees