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Campaign Overview

What the WI called for

The WI called on the Government to:

Recognise the importance of honey bees in pollinating the food that we all rely on and ensure that this is reflected in the research which is carried out using government funding. The WI called for research to be undertaken into all the challenges honey bees face: pesticides, diseases, mites, over-farming, food supplies and the nutrient mix to build a clear evidence base on honey bee decline.

The WI called on local authorities and individuals to:

Encourage bees to flourish and cultivate more of their natural habitat by:

  • Making sure that honey bees are taken into consideration when choosing flowers and plants to place on community land.
  • Individually making sure that there is a wealth and diversity of food for bees in window boxes, borders and gardens across the whole of the UK.
  • Gaining an understanding of the importance of bees to our habitat and food security, and linking up with other people in communities to ensure that the importance of bees is recognised locally.

Campaign achievements

Funding for pollinator research

WI members across England and Wales pushed to ensure that honey bees received their fair share of the £10 million Insect Pollinator Initiative research fund. Two of the projects funded deal exclusively with honey bees, and they feature in six more of the nine projects. Research is now being carried out into issues like bee diseases, the effect of mite control chemicals and pesticides on honey bee learning, and the varroa mite. Honeybees also feature in projects to look at crop pollination in the UK, possible links between wildflower and pollinator decline, pollinators in urban areas and bee nutrition.

Making politicians bee aware

Lobbying from WI members has helped put honey bees on the political map – with MPs tabling questions and debating the issue in Parliament. Julie Girling, MEP for the South East even mentioned the WI during a debate in the European Parliament. Julie said: "A key organisation in the UK, leading the fight to protect our humble bumbles and honey bees are the Women's Institute who maintain that approximately a third of our human diet is directly dependent on bees, making them central to our existence."

Getting the public buzzing about bees

WI members have been taking action all over England and Wales to raise awareness of the plight of the honey bee. From encouraging local authorities to plant bee friendly flowers, to giving out seed packs and baking honey cakes, WI members have stopped at nothing to create a buzz about bees.