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‘The Plight of the Humble Bee’; a public meeting held at St Michael’s Centre on 18th April, posed that very question. Sue Harrison of Abergavenny and Crickhowell Friends of the Earth reports.


In answer to the question of whether it’s too late to save our bees, I would say no, judging by the excellent attendance (over 100) at our recent public meeting. The enthusiasm of the audience was a clear indication that this issue raises serious public concern.

The guest speakers, Brigit Strawbridge (, a passionate champion of wild bees, Tony Shaw (, a hobby beekeeper and Marc Carlton (, a naturalist with a special interest in plants for pollinators,  gave three fascinating presentations about bumble bees, solitary bees, honey bees, other pollinators and the plants they feed on.

Brigit’s intimate knowledge of bee behaviour was a revelation. Tony described the co-evolution of flowering plants and pollinating insects and the worrying use of honeybees in the intensive agricultural monocultures in the USA.  Marc explained how different flower shapes attract different insects provided tips on providing forage and shelter for all sorts of pollinators in our own gardens.  He urged attendees to get involved in “citizen science”, joining in surveys of pollinators to gather important evidence about their decline.  The speakers all emphasised the grave risk to pollinators posed by pesticides, especially systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids.  They are all calling for at least a partial ban.

The most important message from the meeting was that we must learn to see the world through pollinators’ eyes. The bedding plants that we tend to like provide no food for pollinators.  Our tidy gardens are not the ideal habitat for bees.  Most of our public green spaces are wastelands for bees. The use of pesticides is leading to the destruction of the delicate balance between so-called pests and their predators that is the result of thousands of years of evolution.  Herbicides are destroying the few remaining wild flowers.  The huge decline in the number of insects is having a knock-on effect on bird populations.  Everything in nature is connected. It seems to we have a choice.  Either we continue to undermine this natural harmony and ignore the consequences, or we try to remember that we are part of it and work with nature instead of against it.

Everyone left the meeting feeling inspired to find out more and to take further action.  Most of us can plant flowers in our own gardens to provide pollen and nectar for pollinators and stop using pesticides, but there is a lot that can be done to improve our public green spaces and our farmland.

About 40 people have signed up for the Bee Walks organised for the summer to identify pollinating insects and to assess how pollinator-friendly the local environment is. Friends of the Earth plan to run a full day’s Bee workshop with Brigit Strawbridge in the autumn. Local schools are also getting involved. Our Lady & St. Michael’s School has already planted a small bee-friendly garden and now Llanvihangel Crucorney School is planning one this term.

If you are interested in finding out what else you can do please contact Sue Harrison at Abergavenny and Crickhowell Friends of the Earth on

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