We depend on them not just to provide the everyday foods we take for granted like apples and pears – but also for the survival of many of the flowers that we see in our gardens and countryside and the many species that in turn rely on them.
Thanks to recent campaigns, many people are aware that British pollinators are under threat like never before. In fact the British bee population has declined by a third since 2007, and as our population grows the need for their services is ever increasing.
One of the main causes of the decline in the number of bees, butterflies and other pollinators in the UK is the way that landscapes have been managed over the last 50 years. 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared and use of pesticides have been introduced, making it increasingly difficult for them to find the food and shelter that they need.
There are many things that we as individuals can do to help our pollinators – from planting nectar rich flowers in our gardens to providing homes such as bug hotels. But what we really need to do now is to work in a more joined up way across Hampshire to ensure that these wonderful and essential species can thrive.
At Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust we not only ensure that our nature reserves provide habitats for a range of pollinators, we recognise that it is essential to share our knowledge with others. Our small land advice team works with a wide variety of landowners to provide practical land management and education across a range of habitats including farmland, woodland and grassland.
We also work with local schools to teach children about the importance of these pollinating species. However, we have a small team and with your help we know that we could do more to protect our pollinators, more resources would allow us to reach more people and create more wildlife friendly habitats.
We want to do so much more, including providing advice to landowners like farmers to help them provide homes and food sources for pollinators. We could also advise schools, community schools.
The cost of many fruits and vegetables would go up without bees. Replacing bee pollination with hand pollination could cost a whopping £1.8 billion a year in manual labour and pollen alone. This is already a reality in China for apples and Madagascar for vanilla where bee populations have already crashed.
The price tag on British apples could double, and some foods would disappear altogether meaning we would have less choice and variety on our plate. As well as the devastating impact on our local economy, a catastrophic drop in the availability of fruit and vegetables would damage our diets and health.
We need to act now to ensure that the health of bees and other pollinators are protected and future generations can enjoy a world rich in the colours, tastes and sounds that they provide.
Find out more about our pollinator appeal at http://www.hiwwt.org.uk/.