Action plan to halt Welsh bee decline

Image caption The action plan hopes to halt the decline of bees

An action plan to protect Wales' bees, which have been in severe decline for the last 30 years, is being drawn up.

The value of bees and other pollinators to the UK government is estimated to be £430 million a year.

Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths is trying to halt the bee decline by creating the pollinator plan, which he said was a UK first.

Proposals include planting more bee-friendly plants in areas such as railway embankments and road verges.

Scientists said last month a parasitic Varroa mite had helped a virus wipe out billions of honeybees around the globe.

A team studying honeybees in Hawaii found that the mite helped spread a particularly nasty strain of a disease called deformed wing virus.

The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood.

Mr Griffiths announced the action plan during a visit to the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd, Powys, where he visited the Welsh Bee Keepers' Association stand.

The plan will attempt to reverse the decline of honey bees, managed bees and hover flies.

Mr Griffiths said: "We know that 20% of the UK cropped area is made up of pollinator-dependent crops, a high portion of wild flowering plants depend on insect pollination for reproduction and the value of pollinators to the UK government is conservatively estimated to be £430 million per annum.

"This makes pollination a vitally important eco-system service.

"Wales will be leading the way on this issue and will be the first UK government to produce a pollinator action plan."

Friends of the Earth Cymru campaigner Bleddyn Lake said his organisation was delighted.

'Millions of pounds'

"Thousands of people have already backed our campaign, The Bee Cause, which calls for action on habitat loss and pesticide use," he added.

"It's fantastic that Wales is taking the lead with action to safeguard our environment and save the economy millions of pounds - the rest of the UK must follow quickly."

The action plan will be developed in partnership with key agencies and might include changes to the planning system that will help to make development "pollinator friendly".

Other plans include planting more bee-friendly plants in areas such as railway embankments and road verges.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites