Australia and Canada already have it – and now it is being set up in Great Britain: BeeConnected – a platform for bringing beekeepers and farmers closer together. The initiative, which will be available as an online website, was developed with the support of the Crop Protection Association (CPA), the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU). The aim of BeeConnected is to facilitate and strengthen exchanges between beekeepers and farmers, and thus to further increase bee safety in the field.
Using this tool, farmers in the UK can communicate with registered beekeepers and tell them when they will treat their fields and which insecticide they intend to use. Beekeepers also register the location of their hives on the web-based tool, and when notified of an intention to spray an insecticide, can opt to temporarily close their hives or move their bee colonies to another place if they want to. “This way, beekeepers can ensure the highest level of safety for their bees during the application of plant protection products,” says Julian Little, Communications & Government Affairs at Bayer in Cambridge, England. Bayer has financially contributed to the development of BeeConnected through membership of the Crop Protection Association.
BeeConnected is a UK nationwide initiative that encourages exchanges between beekeepers and farmers.
Sustainable agriculture is also one of the focus areas of Bayer’s Bee Care Program, as crop protection and pollinator protection must go hand in hand. “To ensure good quality and quantity of their yields, farmers need plant protection products to save the crops from pests. In many crops, they need healthy bees for pollination, too” explains Little. Therefore, every product that Bayer develops is tested for bee-friendly application before its registration. Moreover, with this new website, farmers can now actively contribute to bee protection, by anonymously informing all registered beekeepers beforehand about their insecticide application, or by sending a direct message to beekeepers nearby.
The launch of the new platform is planned for September 2016. A test version that ran in the north of London has already shown a positive tendency. “We’ve been impressed by the interest the Hertfordshire pilot has generated. It’s really important that farmers and beekeepers sign up to the system ahead of the launch. The more that use it, the more useful it will be. If we can generate enough interest in each region across the UK, we can certainly help farmers meet best practice in the spraying of insecticides,” said Nick von Westenholz, CEO of the CPA in a statement about the pilot version in June.
Beekeepers and farmers in the UK can register here.
You can get more information about BeeConnected from the Crop Protection Association.