THE BLOG

Help Safeguard the Future of Britain's Bees

22/07/2016 15:12 | Updated 22 July 2016
ASSOCIATED PRESS

With the hottest days of the year upon us and the mercury set to hit 35ºc in the South East of England, now is the perfect time to enjoy a picnic in the park, a BBQ in the back garden or a refreshing, cold cider in your local pub's beer garden.

As we bask in the long-awaited heat wave and plan BBQs for the weekend, it's perhaps not surprising to consider that over a third of Brits admit summer would be ruined without BBQs and picnics - after all they are the cornerstone of the British summer.

What is more surprising, however, is the fact that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the top three favourite British summertime foods and drinks - strawberries with cream, ice cream sundaes and cider - at all, if it weren't for bees. In fact, these foods simply wouldn't exist in a world without bees.

The same research also reveals that despite the crucial role bees play within our food chain, a quarter of us (25%) still view bees as pests.

The truth is pollinators such as the British honeybee help ensure the lifecycle of over 80% of crops and wild plants in Europe. The list of food and drink produce which could potentially not exist in a world without bees includes fruits, such as strawberries, lemons, watermelon and limes, apples for cider, honey and jams, tea and coffee, wild flowers and herbs, and even cotton.

Our video here shows the difference between how our world would look, with and without bees:

This research, commissioned by Rowse Honey, shows that as a nation, we're clearly very naïve about where our food comes from. The humble honeybee is responsible for pollinating much of the fresh and wonderful foods which make our British summers so special.

Sadly, British bee hives have declined by 73% in the past 100 years. Bees and their products are worth more than £651m to the UK economy, yet the UK is home to just 30% of the bee hives needed in order to future-proof Britain's bee count. It's estimated that our country needs to increase its bee farmer count by a minimum of 33% - to at least 1000 farmers - over the next decade or we may find ourselves facing lower availability of produce and potentially higher food prices.

The UK needs more beefarmers to help safeguard the future of the British beefarming industry, so here at Rowse we're searching for the next generation through the Rowse Honey Bee-a-Beefarmer apprenticeship scheme, developed in partnership with the Bee Farmers Association (BFA). We're training 30 young beefarmers apprentices over the next three years in the hope of stemming the decline of UK honeybees, to boost beehive numbers and ensure people in Britain can enjoy their picnics, BBQs and ice creams for years to come.

In 2015 the average age of a bee farmer in Britain was 66 years old. However, the launch of the campaign last year has resulted in the recruitment of 13 new beefarmers to date with an average age of 19.

So far, our scheme has added an extra 60million honey bees to the British population and it's estimated that by the end of the three year scheme, that figure will be closer to 180million. People can apply for our scheme by visiting rowsehoney.co.uk.

I believe it's so important that we all work together, to help safeguard the future of the British beefarming industry and to ensure we can all continue to enjoy delicious picnics, BBQs, ice creams and ice cold glasses of cider, on sunny summer days like the one we're enjoying today, for years to come.

Ian Ainsworth is Managing Director of Rowse Honey. He is a passionate supporter of British beefarming and is a strong advocate of the Bee-a-Beefarmer apprenticeship scheme, which was set up to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to make a successful career in the bee farming industry. Ian and the Rowse Honey team have pledged to help recruit 30 apprentices onto the scheme, over three years

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