Home Estate Planning The Notebook: A looming threat to the UK’s vital bee population

The Notebook: A looming threat to the UK’s vital bee population

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Where the City’s movers and shakers have their say. Today, it’s Nicola Reed, founder and CEO of honey spirits brand Beeble.

The threat to our bees

Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have four years to live.”

These wonderful insects play a crucial part in every aspect of the ecosystem. They are essential to people and planet, part of the biodiversity which we all depend on for our survival.

Flowering plants represent over 90 per cent of all species, and of these, more than 80 per cent rely on a pollinator for reproduction. More than 75 per cent of the food we eat depends on bees and other pollinators, including apples, broccoli, oilseed rape, strawberries, coffee, tomatoes, almonds and cherries.

Bees are also the only insect in the world that make something that humans eat – the glorious foodstuff that I work with every day at Beeble, the honey spirits brand I founded.

For over ten years I have also been a keen beekeeper – a short time in the 100 million years that bees have been on this planet, but long enough to be concerned for their future.

A few weeks ago, farming minister Mark Spencer gave ‘emergency’ authorisation for the use of a highly damaging insecticide called a neonicotinoid this spring. The ‘neonic’, thiamethoxam, kills by attacking the nervous system of insects in the same way that the Novichok nerve agent kills people.

This chemical was banned by the EU but now it will be used on sugar beet crops in the UK this year.

Thiamethoxam is known to have a devastating effect on wildlife – a single teaspoon is toxic enough to kill 1.25 billion bees. This authorisation goes against the advice of both the Health and Safety Executive and DEFRA’s specialist advisers, the Expert Committee on Pesticides. The Government has abandoned its own commitment to protect our pollinators and ignored scientific evidence.

Whatever your view of Brexit, no-one would have expected that the Government would use Brexit freedoms to take such a backwards step for the environment. There could be no worse news for the UK’s bee population.

Big Give: The importance of charity

My husband James Reed’s charity Big Give has a very simple idea at its heart: doubling donations so people’s money goes further. Members of the public can donate to any one of the hundreds of participating charities taking part in different campaigns across the year, and Big Give brings in match funding ‘champions’ – philanthropists, companies and foundations – to double what they give.

To date, Big Give has raised over £280 million for 16,000 charities. The next campaign, Arts for Impact, runs from March 19 to 26 and will be raising money for arts and culture charities. Do give if you can, or if you’re in a position to become a funding champion please do get in touch.

A favourite coffee spot in London

The Coffee Plant, at 180 Portobello Road, Notting Hill Gate is where I go every day for my morning coffee and coffee beans when I am in London. Their house coffee is a Peruvian blend. It is consistently delicious and the price is really reasonable. Callum has created a lovely community spirit there. It is a wonderful place to relax or read a book.

Sir Andy Murray, tennis legend

Andy Murray

Sir Andy Murray has hit back at claims that he is somehow ‘tarnishing his legacy’ by refusing to retire despite a poor run of form. The 36-year-old has clawed his way back after being fitted with a metal hip – a quite extraordinary achievement.

Many people would give up in his position, but Sir Andy is not many people. After winning Wimbledon twice and two Olympic gold medals, Sir Andy has earned the right to play on as long as he wants. He is a fantastic role model and deserves all our support.

Recommendation: Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

I have just finished Booker prize winner Paul Lynch’s book, Prophet Song.

It’s a terrifying portrayal of a dystopian Ireland where mother-of-four Eilish Stack has to keep making choices to save her family. I felt as though the author was creeping up behind me, such was the gradual horror of the situation. It is a beautifully written novel that will stay with me. I won’t give any more away, but I think this is a must read.

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