Campaign calls on people in the North West to protect iconic Wall Mason Bee

8th May 2013
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A new report from the University of Reading shows that the North West now supports the only English population of the rare and declining Wall Mason Bee.

Wall Mason BeeBritain has over 250 bee species, but numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign is calling on bee-lovers in the North West to help reverse the fortunes of this iconic bee decline.

What’s the problem?
The Wall Mason Bee is highly dependent on the pollen of the wildflower bird’s-foot trefoil which it needs to feed its young. Its decline is closely linked to the loss of this plant as a result of intensified farming and urban development.

The bee, which loves to nest in broken limestone paving, is holding on in the places like Gait Barrows, Canforth and Hutton, but it needs more help to join up isolated populations. That is where people in the North West can make a difference.

Leading bee expert from the University of Reading, Professor Simon Potts, said: “The way we farm and use land across the UK has pushed many rare bees into serious decline. I’m calling on the government to act swiftly to save these iconic creatures which are essential to a thriving environment and our food supply”.

Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth Nature Campaigner said: ‘The iconic Wall Mason Bee is in real trouble. But people in the North West can change all that with simple practical actions and by urging their MPs to play their part. Let’s make 2013 the year of the bee.’

The plight of Wall Mason Bee in the North West is part of a national decline in UK bee populations. The UK has lost 20 species of bee since 1900. A 2012 study showed it would cost farmers £1.8bn a year to replace the pollination service bees provide for free.


KEY FACTS

The Wall Mason Bee (Osmia Parientina)
Appearance: robust black bee with golden hair on face and thorax
Best place to see: Gait Barrows NNR, Canforth Slag Banks, Hutton Roof Slags
Loves: to nest in broken limestone paving
Needs: Bird’s-foot trefoil pollen to feed young

What can people in the North West do?
• Plant bee-friendly flowers such as bird’s-foot trefoil
• Raise bee-decline with your local MP and ask them to support a Bee Action Plan.
• Ask local authorities to identify and protect local sites important to bees through the planning system.
• To find out more about helping bees go to www.foe.co.uk/bees.

What can government do?
The Bee Cause is calling for a national Bee Action Plan to protect all bee species. A Bee Action Plan would defend the Wall Mason Bee and other species by helping farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce chemicals that harm bees; and ensure our towns and countryside provide bees with enough flowers to feed on and places to nest.

ENDS

Contact:  Tom Coupe, 020 7566 1649, tom.coupe@foe.co.uk

Notes to Editors

1.Read the full Reading University report about the Large Garden Bumblebee here http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/bees_north_west.pdf

2.Press images are available to download: http://photolibrary.foe.co.uk/?c=443&k=347f1f033c Please credit illustrations: © Chris Shields

3.Friends of the Earth’s briefing on a proposed Bee Action Plan is here: http://bit.ly/BeeActionPlan

4.Friends of the Earth’s The Bee Cause campaign is calling on the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan, and supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit The Bee Cause webpage www.foe.co.uk/bees.

5.Friends of the Earth’s call for a Bee Action Plan is backed by over 170 MPs, The Co-operative Group, The Women’s Institute, B&Q and many others. See the full list here: http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/our_bee_cause_allies_39436.html

6.For further advice on plants suitable for helping pollinating insects go to http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/Plants-for-pollinators

7.For more than 40 years we’ve seen that the wellbeing of people and planet go hand in hand – and it’s been the inspiration for our campaigns. Together with thousands of people like you we’ve secured safer food and water, defended wildlife and natural habitats, championed the move to clean energy and acted to keep our climate stable. Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk.