Friday, 15 July 2011

Bee Roads & Wild Flowers can help save the bees in the UK...Pasture Farmers are Key Players

Do you know what a “Bee Road” is? It’s a wild flower planting on farms to attract & protect Bees. I’ve started my own “Bee Road” sowing a wild flower strip of about 40metres x 10m along a roadside on a pasture based dairy farm.  It was sown this spring & is now in glorious techno colour. The bees & insects love it but there have been some problems like the dry weather & weed infestation. I am justly proud of my efforts but there are frustrations.
I’m however really angry at the moment East Staffordshire Council has just mown part of the roadside where I planted some of my roadside wild flowers or “Bee Road”. Of course the ability of those flowers to seed has been lost due to the vandalism of the council who have a May & June mowing routine. The roadside mowing routine shows that local authorities have no understanding, nor any real commitment to protecting the English biodiversity & specifically the humble but incredible important honey bees. 
Almost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, largely by honey bees. These foods provide 35pc of our calories, most of our minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants, and the foundations of gastronomy. Yet the bees are dying – or being killed – at a disturbing pace.
Bees are incredibly important to agriculture including pasture based dairy farms. Yet as I walk pastures day after day in the UK I see virtually no Honey bees & relatively few Bumble bees. Honestly when did you last see Honey Bees on your pastures?
I can proudly say that pasture based dairy farmers in the UK do have pastures that contain a lot of white clover, some red clover & some herbs like Chicory which all feed the bee population. Excessive use of Nitrogen fertilizer creates a monoculture of ryegrass with no flowering species for the Honey Bees. Grass based milk producers depend on the pollinators to reseed pastures with lush clover. Thats why grass fed milk is so much healthier.
In France, Dominque Bussereau, Secretary of State for Transport announced in January 2011 an ambitious plan to plant 250km of roadside in France with wild flowers to attract & protect the bees. This is likely to be extended over much of France with perhaps 12,000km of roadside being planted to help the Honey Bees. What an amazing plan!
"The Cooperative" Supermarket Group in the UK has taken a number of initiatives to save bees to the UK. This includes donating £750,000 for “Bee Roads”…wild flower plantings on roadsides in the UK. Good positive assistance by a supermarket retailer.
The Telegraph newspaper is to be congratulated on its “Save the Bees” campaign.
The evidence is that sadly the biodiversity in the English countryside is not what it used to be…. & this is affecting the bee population on which agriculture & food production is so reliant. You only need to look at the roadside hedges in the English countryside…they are lovely & green but often without flowers…especially if the Council has mown it. (Why don’t they put their efforts & man power into fixing the pot holes instead of vandalising the bee habitats with a tractor mower?)
See briefings 1295 about the National Ecosystems Assessment for the UK.
Pasture based Dairy farmers need to take a public stand & be vocal about their support for saving the bees & for increasing the biodiversity on farms. We are already leading the way but we need to speak up & be heard. We have plenty of opportunities to plant either roadside “Bee Roads”, keep bee hives on the farms or help stop local authority vandals from mowing the wild flowers when it is totally unnecessary.
Join my campaign to stop the Local Authority vandals & to plant your own wild flower Bee Road to help save the Honey Bees in the UK.
Current UK Pasture Measurements Pasture growth still very variable dependant on rain. Excellent summer growth in some areas but very little growth in the drier counties of Derbyshire, East Staffordshire & Oxfordshire.
TheAverage Pasture Cover (kgsDM/ha) & Pasture Growth (kgsDM/ha/day)
Scotland, South Ayrshire, AFC 2154, Pasture growth this week 100 kgsDM/ha/day
Shropshire, 2475, growth 46, cumulative YTD 5177kgsDM/ha same as last year.
East Staffordshire, 2100, gr 28, dem 35 little or no growth very dry
Derbyshire, 2142, gr 20, dem 59, V Dry, 2leaf PRG 40% DM of paddocks
Nottingham, gr 28, demand 59, 30 day round feeding maize
Oxfordshire, 1950, gr 15, dem 30 still V dry, topping was a bad idea
Gloucestershire, 2135, gr 66
Herefordshire, AFC 2100, growth 70, Demand 60
Pembrokeshire, AFC 2216, gr 74, steady growth for last 3 weeks
Dorset, 2500, gr43, dem 45 grazing chicory & Plantain milk yields up but MFat % down
East Sussex 2400, gr 85, cows all dry Holiday Time!!
Northern Germany organic, 2110, gr 65, growth increased after recent rain, 23 day round, 16 hr milkings Going really well!


  1. the govt are doing their bit when it comes to Bee roads, they're leaving all that lovely Ragwort for them. What more could you ask for??

  2. 1 saw bee flowes in my garden. It's vey nice and bees love them.

    We will see them soon at Mahalon.


  3. “Contrary to reports on various internet and social media sites it is not the responsibility of East Staffordshire Borough Council to cut the grass verges on country lanes and therefore it is not the Council who is endangering Bee colonies in these areas.

    “The cutting of grass verges on country lanes is the responsibility of farmers who flail their verges and hedges.”