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: