Co-operative Farms Acts to Protect Bees
The Co-operative Group, the U.K. consumer cooperative featured elsewhere on this page and in the current issue of Cooperative Grocer, has launched an ambitious new drive to protect bees and other pollinators. Co-operative Farms, a subsidiary of The Co-operative Group and the largest farmer in the U.K., recently announced a U.S. $1.2 million campaign titled "Plan Bee" that will include establishing long rows of bee-friendly habitat across the country. These areas will also support other key pollinators such as butterflies and moths.
Bee populations, essential for pollinating numerous food crops, are suffering severe die-off and decline in U.K. and other countries including the U.S., with annual losses of 30 percent of the population. Likely causes for the die-off include pesticides and loss of supportive natural habitat. Said Paul Monaghan, head of Social Goals at The Co-operative, "We want people to understand there's a problem. And we also want to empower people to thinking there's something they can do about it." Plan Bee promotes pollinator-friendly gardens in urban area, distributing some 900,000 packets of wildflower seeds and supporting co-op members to become beekeepers.
The Co-operative Group will increase the number of hives on its farms from 400 to 1,300; fund to map and breed native bees and to establish the effects of pesticides on their numbers; and will extend its already-existing ban on the use of six neonicotinoid-based pesticides on The Co-op's fresh and frozen produce.
The Co-operative Group's Plan Bee campaign announcement is here: