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Warning over threats to West Norfolk bee populations

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There are calls for renewed efforts to protect bee populations from both existing and new threats
There are calls for renewed efforts to protect bee populations from both existing and new threats

More needs to be done to protect bee populations in West Norfolk, according to councillors and a group representing keepers.

A motion has been tabled ahead of a county council meeting next week, calling for a detailed strategy to be drawn up to protect insect pollinators.

And both beekeepers and residents are being urged to be vigilant against a new threat, which it is feared could put populations at greater risk.

The issue is attracting renewed attention amid reports of an overall decline in bee populations and growing awareness of their vital role in the growing of crops.

A motion proposed by independent Sandra Squire to next Monday’s Norfolk County Council meeting says: “As a largely rural county with agriculture forming a large part of our economy it is essential that decline is halted.

“Therefore, we undertake to further the work of the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and to produce a ‘Pollinator Action Plan’.”

The motion proposes measures including the development of wildflower verges and roundabouts, as well as discouraging the use of chemicals which are dangerous to bees on council-owned land.

It also calls for the authority to encourage other landowners to take similar steps, as has previously happened in relation to balloon releases.

West Norfolk may be one area that is bucking the falling trend, though, as the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Beekeepers Association says its membership has doubled over the past decade, and the number of hives in use has also expanded over that period.

But the group’s president, Stuart Grant, said there is concern that a new predator, the Asian hornet, will be more prevalent this year, having had a major impact on production in Europe in recent times.

Some sightings were reported in England in 2018 and the group fears there could be more this year.

Mr Grant said: “We ask all members of the public, particularly, gardeners, countryside walkers, caravan and mobile home users to keep a special watch for this insect, particularly if they have been on the continent recently."

Sightings can be reported online via www.nonnativespecies.org.

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