Bees in Devon

It’s getting on for a year now since Friends of the Earth launched its campaign, the Bee Cause, aimed at supporting bees in this country and elsewhere.  At around the same time two scientific studies were published looking at the effects of the neonicotinoid insecticides on honeybees and bumblebees under field conditions.  These studies were widely discussed and lead to a sustained crusade to get these insecticides banned;  a parliamentary enquiry also began.  I won’t dwell on this as I have summarised the story elsewhere.

At about the same time, I started talking to beekeepers about their experience and this turned in to a mini survey of the state of bees in Devon.  I was  interested to find out whether, as Friends of the Earth claimed, there was a catastrophic decline in bee numbers.    I learnt so much and it was fascinating to visit different beekeepers and to hear their different stories and different approaches in looking after these complex creatures.   I was also able to meet one of the leading scientists in the field, James Cresswell from Exeter University, who helped me appreciate the differences between honeybees and bumblebees.

I wrote an article for Devon Life Magazine about my travels and this has finally come out more than six months later:


6 thoughts on “Bees in Devon”

  1. Good article, you did a lot of research. I’m very worried about the bumbles and solitary bees this wet and numbingly cold spring, they do not have the honey reserves of honeybees or beekeepers feeding them.


    1. Thanks Emily, it was good to meet all the different people as I went about Devon.

      I agree about the bumblebees and solitary bees but perhaps some will not come out of hibernation until the temperature increases. I wondered also whether winter losses might be higher for honeybees this season, what do you think?


      1. Anecdotally, a lot of the bee bloggers I follow online and beekeepers I talk to locally have lost hives. It’s a difficult season. I’m wondering whether we should start feeding ours pollen supplement as well as fondant.


    1. Glad the Devon beekeepers have been doing well. Thanks for the FERA link. The BBKA have commented in the latest BBKA news that they’re worried about conclusions from studies on bumblebees being applied to honeybees too, whereas neonicotinoids could have different effects on honeybees.


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