Bexhill MP chairs group fighting for bees

EMBARGOED TO 1001 MONDAY SEPTEMBER 7''Undated handout photo issued by Natural England of a short-haired bumblebee which is to be reintroduced to Britain after becoming extinct in 2000. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday September 7, 2009. It became extinct in this country in 2000, and Natural England, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), the RSPB and bee charity Hymettus, have launched a scheme to bring the species home. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Bees. Photo credit should read: Natural England/PA Wire B31727921252163022A
EMBARGOED TO 1001 MONDAY SEPTEMBER 7''Undated handout photo issued by Natural England of a short-haired bumblebee which is to be reintroduced to Britain after becoming extinct in 2000. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday September 7, 2009. It became extinct in this country in 2000, and Natural England, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), the RSPB and bee charity Hymettus, have launched a scheme to bring the species home. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Bees. Photo credit should read: Natural England/PA Wire B31727921252163022A

Bexhill MP Huw Merriman has launched an all-party parliamentary group which will look at protecting the future of bees.

The inaugural meeting was held on December 9 at the Houses of Parliament and was well attended with MPs from different parts of the political spectrum coming together to support the group.

Mr Merriman said: “It is a huge privilege to be elected chairman and I am delighted that we have been able to create this group which will enable us to inform parliamentarians about the essential role which bees, pollinators and beekeepers play in food production and the environment.”

MPs also heard from Tim Lovett and David Aston, president of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), which will be providing support to the group.

Mr Lovett, public affairs director for the BBKA, said: “We are really pleased to see the group launched and are looking forward to playing an active role in supporting the group and giving its members a better understanding of the issues facing bees and pollinators. We will be working with Mr Merriman and the group to develop a future programme of enlightening and interesting events for the group.”

The launch of the all-party group is the culmination of a number of recent events Mr Merriman has taken part in to promote Bees and Pollinators.

On December 2, he chaired a meeting of the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) where academics and specialists in the area of pollination outlined the importance of pollinators to agriculture and the risks posed to them.

He also helped commission a recent parliamentary debate which was held in response to an e-petition from 100,000 members of the public where the new group was warmly welcomed by MPs.

Huw said: “It is great to see the level of focus which bees and pollinators are getting in parliament. Ensuring the success and survival of pollinators is vital to mankind and our planet.

“For there to be so many MPs sharing a concern and interest in parliament is encouraging. I hope with the launch of the group we can keep bees and pollinators firmly on the parliamentary agenda.”

The Soil Association claims there is strong evidence to suggest that bees are in decline due to the use of pesticides.

The British Beekeepers Association says the economic value of honey bees and bumble bees as pollinators of commercially-grown insect pollinated crops in the UK has been estimated at more than £200m per year.

In the UK, about 70 crops are dependent on, or benefit from, visits from bees.

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