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Move to save bees is a buzz for Newtown honey farm

By Lucy Todman | Newtown | Farming | Published:

A major local honey producer has welcomed news that a number of leading garden retailers have said they did not want to stock flowering plants which have been treated with pesticides linked to declines in bees.

Scott Davies of Hilltop Honey in Newtown is pleased garden centres realise the value of healthy bees

Friends of the Earth carried out a survey of 10 top garden centres and found nine did not want the plants they sold to be grown using three "neonicotinoid" pesticides restricted in the European Union, and were working with suppliers to prevent their use.

But the environmental group called on garden retail giant Homebase, which has yet to commit to working with suppliers on the chemicals, to take action.

Josh Owen, marketing manager at Hilltop Honey in Newtown welcomed the news and said: "It's great to see some garden centres supporting the bees, not selling plants that have been grown using pesticides which have been linked with the decline in the number of bees.

"It's a small step in the right direction that these businesses have made to being more supportive of bees. Hilltop Honey has shown it's support to the bees by giving away free packs of seeds with every jar of honey in Tesco as well as working with wildlife trusts to find suitable apiaries for Hilltop Honey's hives."

A study released earlier in the year found retailers were selling "bee-friendly" plants that contain high levels of the insecticides.

Researchers tested blooms from a number of stores, and more than 70 per cent contained the controversial neonicotinoids, including the restricted ones.

Research suggests neonicotinoids damage bees' ability to forage and navigate as well as colony growth, and three key pesticides were banned by the EU in 2013 for use on a number of flowering crops and ornamental plants.

B&Q announced in May it had banned suppliers from using any of the nine neonicotinoid pesticides in growing its flowering plant range available from next February.

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Wyevale has also said it does not want the three restricted neonicotinoids in its garden plants.

Friends of the Earth is handing in a petition to the Government from more than 33,000 people, urging it to support a permanent, comprehensive ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides.

The group's bee campaigner Nick Rau said: "We're delighted that leading garden retailers are responding to public concern and mounting scientific evidence by saying 'no' to plants grown with bee-harming chemicals.

"People up and down the country have been creating pollinator-friendly gardens - they need to be confident that the plants they buy are not going to harm Britain's bees."

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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