08 February 2019
Did you know that we depend on pollination from bees for a third of the foods we eat?
There has been growing awareness amongst the public and political organisations over the last few years about how crucial bees are to the food chain. Equally, there’s increasing concern voiced to the RCVS from vets and public alike, over bee sustainability and the threats to bee populations – both man-made and natural.
And, as well as their vital role in pollinating so many of our foods, the honey they produce also gives us an exceptional antibacterial product.
However, it takes the nectar from up to an incredible 2 million flowers to make just 500g of honey.
A shortage of pollen is one of the most significant problems bees face, with the average colony requiring up to 30kgs of pollen per year; the equivalent weight of 2 large bags of dog food.
But that’s not all. The three main threats to bee populations are:
- Reduction in suitable habitat and wild flora
- Pesticides and agrochemical use
- The devastating effect of the parasite, the Varroa Mite, on honey bees, unfortunately the Varroa Mite has become resistant to some Miticides used to control it, so alternative methods are under constant research
Agria Pet Insurance is passionate about supporting the British Bee Veterinary Association (BBVA) and has donated £4000 to assist in communication. Additionally, Agria has pledged ongoing support to help the charity achieve its objectives within the veterinary industry.
The BBVA was formed almost four years ago in response to an increase in queries to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) from both veterinary professionals and the public about bee sustainability. Its aim is to highlight the threats bee populations face, emphasise their critical environmental importance, and illustrate the little things everyone can do to make a big impact.
So, when it comes to spreading awareness about the plight of one of the world’s most valuable species, what better place to start than with veterinary practices!
The Bee Friendly Practice initiative has been developed by BBVA to encourage veterinary practices to extend their creature care beyond the clinic door – by planting bee friendly plots, window boxes or containers to provide extra food for bees. Practices can increase their involvement by joining the BBVA, for which they’ll receive a practice pack filled with leaflets, posters, window stickers and a garden sign to promote their ‘Bee Friendly’ status, while encouraging clients to join in.
Becoming a member is a crucial step towards offering tangible help to the long-term outlook of bees, by providing funding for research and ongoing education. It also offers vets interested in bee health and management ways to keep abreast of the latest developments in bee disease, science and husbandry, with regular meetings and events.
President of the BBVA, John Hill, believes in a collaborative approach to making the scheme a success; “Agria Pet Insurance is continuing to give great support to the BBVA in our campaign to help practices become ‘Bee Friendly’. Bees are very much in the public’s awareness and there is already great momentum in wanting to help them in whatever way they can. We want to contact as many practices as possible to help spread the message that bees need flowers for food and habitat to survive.”
The British Bee Veterinary Association are also attending the Satellite Meeting ahead of the BSAVA Congress in May 2019.
There are some other great things happening to aid the scheme. There is a ‘National Pollinator Strategy’ for England, Wales and Scotland, and Ireland has the ‘All Ireland Pollination Scheme’ covering both Northern and Southern Ireland. These coordinate the efforts of many organisations and local authorities towards promotion of suitable habitats for bees and other insects.
The European Union has introduced a ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, which have been shown to harm bees in several ways; including damaging their memory and affecting the number of Queens.
More evidence is emerging of the antimicrobial properties of Honey and Propolis (bee glue) which will be of value in the AMR (anti-microbial resistance) era.
Agria’s first policy was written back in 1890 by Claes Virgin, whose philosophy was centred around the importance of animal-owner relationships and a secure future for animal and man. Working with the BBVA demonstrates Agria Pet Insurance’s commitment to supporting the welfare of both pets and wild creatures.
Simon Wheeler, Managing Director of Agria Pet Insurance, said; “Agria has a broad-based sustainability strategy balancing the triple bottom line of people, planet & profits. Together with our Scandinavian crop insurance programme and varied UK initiatives supporting the veterinary sector, helping the BBVA seemed to tick all boxes by helping to highlight the plight of the humble bee and offer solutions that we can all embrace to a greater or lesser extent."