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UEA create a buzz in the name of pollination awareness

Experts from the University of East Anglia (UEA) are raising awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators, now that one in ten European bee species is threatened with extinction, during National Bees’ Needs Week (9-15 July),  organised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

Students from schools across Norfolk will become pollination experts at an event organised by UEA’s School of Biological Sciences on 17 July. Alongside experts and recent graduates, they will examine a live bumblebee colony, learn how to identify various pollinating insects, explore the UEA campus for resident pollinators and take part in pollen staining - enabling students to view individual pollen grains under a microscope.

Dr Carl Harrington, Academic Outreach Officer at UEA, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming students from the local area to find out what they can do to conserve these vital creatures. We have full day of interactive activities and events designed to inspire the next generation, which is particularly important when Norfolk’s economy has such a strong focus on agriculture.

“Students will learn about the small steps they can take, such as leaving patches of land to grow wild and not disturbing insect nests and hibernation spots. With an estimated 75% of the world’s major crop species in some way benefitting from animal pollination, it’s crucial we act now.”

UEA are also involved in the week of celebrations organised by Defra in London, which will see Carnaby Street, renamed “Carnabee Street”. Around 1,000 flower window boxes have already been set up across the 14 streets of Carnaby, with 30,000 bees living across two beehives on the rooftops.

At the event UEA experts will be on hand for members of the public to find out what can be done to preserve British bees and learn more about the relation between insects and their physical surroundings. There will also be a chance to play games highlighting the importance of pollination.

Dr Lynn Dicks, Natural Environment Research Council Fellow at the School of Biological Sciences, UEA, said: “Pollinators face a range of pressures, ranging from habitat loss to diseases wiping out their populations, so raising awareness of this issue to the public, Governments and businesses is imperative.

“Food and drink such as apples, avocados, brazil nuts, cocoa, coffee, kiwis, strawberries and tomatoes rely heavily on insect pollination for their production. Without pollinators, these products would be in short supply, and some, like cocoa, might not exist at all.

“Everyone has a part to play in conservation, with the event in London showing that pollinators can thrive in unlikely locations with just a bit of effort.”

Dr Dicks and her colleagues, have also devised a “10 ways to protect our pollinators” guide, aimed at Governments around the world to help them reduce pollinator decline.

Tips include raising pesticide regulatory standards, conserving and restoring ‘green infrastructure’ in agricultural and urban landscapes and the support of diversified farming systems.