Giant bees descended on Downing Street today to sting the government into delivering a Bee Action Plan, as part of Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign.  They delivered over 64,000 demands from UK residents, gathered by Friends of the Earth and Garden Organic. 

The event comes as pressure mounts on the Government to act on bee decline. 89 MPs from across the political parties have called on the Prime Minister to introduce a Bee Action Plan and 125 attended an event on 15 January to express their concern about falling bee numbers. It also coincides with the Advisory Committee on Pesticides discussion on neonicotinoid pesticides, widely believed to be a contributing factor to bee decline.

Bee protest

Bee protest

Image by Friends of the Earth

The bees asked the Prime Minister to make 2013 the Year of the Bee and agree an action plan that should include restoring habitat, reducing pesticide use and protecting all species of bees. Numbers of UK bees have fallen fast for several years and two bumblebee species are already extinct. 

Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Paul de Zylva said:
“Britain is losing its bees fast and only urgent government action will stop it. Bees are vital to our way of life, helping our gardens, parks and farms to thrive. The British public is waking up to this issue; the big question is will Mr Cameron make 2013 the year of the bee by agreeing a Bee Action Plan."

Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign is making 2013 the Year of the Bee. Visit for more actions.

Friends of the Earth’s supporters sent the following message to the Prime Minister:

“Dear David Cameron, 

“Britain's bees are under threat. Yet we need bees. They're important to our food supply, economy and quality of life. Along with thousands of others, I've joined The Bee Cause to help protect Britain's bees. But the Government needs to act too. 

“Please adopt a National Bee Action Plan to ensure that the way we farm our food and plan our towns and cities gets bees back on track. The Government must also have the right experts in place to protect our most threatened species.”

Bees are vital to so much of British life; they pollinate our food, help keep our farms in business and help our gardens, parks and countryside to thrive.

British bee numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. Suitable food and nesting sites are getting scarcer.

Friends of the Earth propose a National Bee Action Plan to include:

  • Help farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce chemicals that harm bees
  • Protect all 267 British bee species, not only the ones who make our honey
  • Ensure bees have enough flowers to feed on and places to nest in our towns and countryside

Friends of the Earth and Garden Organic ran parallel petitions asking for a National Bee Action Plan. 

Accompanying the bees were Friends of Earth Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton; Garden Organic Chief Executive Myles Bremner; Friends of the Earth Local Group Coordinators Andy Durling (Eastbourne), Nathaniel Hulley (Islington) and Diana Wellings (Wanstead and Woodford). 

Myles Bremner, Chief Executive of Garden Organic, said: "We're delighted so many people feel as strongly as we do that urgent action must be taken to save British bees now. If the Government introduces a National Bee Action Plan it would also help to protect a whole range of other beneficial insects that are vital for organic gardens to thrive."

Garden Organic's campaign is called Bee Heard and its next steps will be to urge local authorities to make parks and open spaces more bee-friendly and give schoolchildren a chance to play their part by creating bee hotels. To find out more visit

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


Two leading retailers are taking action on products containing pesticides linked to declining bee populations, Friends of the Earth has discovered today (Tuesday 29 January 2013). The move increases pressure on the UK Government to ban neonicotinoid chemicals linked to falling bee numbers.
B&Q says it will no longer stock pesticide containing the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid, because of “concerns about the potential for harm”
Wickes says it is to replace a product containing the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, later this year. 
Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are among the three neonicotinoid chemicals – along with clothianidin – identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and scientists from EU member states earlier this month, as posing a risk to bees.
The revelations come as members of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides meet today (Tuesday 29 January) to discuss recent developments on bees and pesticides, including the EFSA report.  Also today (Tuesday) giant Friends of the Earth bees handed in a petition signed by over 64,000 people to Number 10 Downing Street urging David Cameron to introduce a National Bee Action Plan (photos available here).
Tomorrow (Wednesday 30 January) German chemical giant Bayer returns to Parliament to explain inconsistencies in its previous evidence on how long neonicotinoid pesticides linger in the environment. Bayer will be questioned by MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee.
Friends of the Earth welcomes the moves by B&Q and Wickes and is calling on retailers to review all of their products that contain neonicotinoid insectides – especially clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. 
Friends of the Earth is also calling on: 
•         The Government to immediately ban the three neonicotinoid pesticides identified by EFSA as a threat to bees
•         The Government to ensure safe and effective alternatives to neonicotinoids are available to farmers - giving preference to non-chemical pest control.
Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said; 
“We’re delighted stores are withdrawing these pesticides. Other retailers must follow suit and take action to protect our bees. 
“The spotlight now falls on the UK Government. Ministers must help safeguard our bees by immediately suspending the three pesticides identified by European food safety scientists - and ensuring farmers have safe alternatives.
“Declining bee numbers are a real threat to food production. This is why the Prime Minister must introduce a National Bee Action Plan.”
1.    In a statement to Friends of the Earth B&Q said: “We have being watching the debate that is developing about the use of pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids, and their potential effect on the UK bee population.  Whilst we believe that the vast majority of pesticides are not injurious to bees when used in accordance with the instructions, we have some concerns about the potential for harm to be caused by the unintentional misuse of products containing imidacloprid.  In recent years, this active ingredient has been phased out of many retail products, and we currently sell only one garden insecticide that uses this active.  As a result of our assessment, we have decided to withdraw it from sale and are investigating alternative treatments to meet customer needs.”
2.    In a statement to Friends of the Earth, Wickes said that: “Wickes only stocks one product containing one of the three chemicals highlighted by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) report.  The product in question  contains thiamethoxam and is licensed for amateur use.  Wickes is not the licence holder and the product is not sold under Wickes own branding.  The packaging includes a warning about its danger to bees and provides some guidance on how to protect bees when using the product.  Wickes reviewed this product recently, prior to the publication of the EFSA report, and took the decision to replace it with an alternative which does not contain thiamethoxam.  The substitute product will be available in stores later this year.”
3.    Earlier this month the European Food Safety Authority identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.
4.    Pesticides and bees is the first item on the agenda of the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides today (Tuesday 29 January).
5       A list of garden products containing neonicotinoids can be found here:
6. Friends of the Earth research, published last year, found it would cost the UK at least an extra £1.8billion every year to hand-pollinate crops without bees. To read a briefing on the report, visit To read the full report visit
7.  In a report for Friends of the Earth bee experts at the University of Reading warned that pesticide use had risen by 6.5% between 2005 and 2010 and that more insecticide treatments tend to be applied to bee pollinated crops 
8.  125 MPs joined Friends of the Earth campaigners in Westminster last week to show their support for action to reverse dwindling bee numbers. 
9. Friends of the Earth’s The Bee Cause campaign is supporting individuals to make change in their gardens and communities to help bees, and asking the Prime Minister to commit to a National Bee Action Plan. To support the call to David Cameron and find out what else you can do to help bees, visit The Bee Cause webpage
10. 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.
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