Monday the 22nd of January was an important day for pollinator health in the Netherlands, with the signing of the national pollinator strategy by no less than 43 partners, one of which was Bayer Bee Care. Scientists, policy makers, beekeepers, farmers and site managers from all corners of the country met at the coast in The Hague to mark the beginning of a mission to see a greater number of bee species in the country, showing a stable or positive population trend by 2023/2030. The importance of this mission was underlined by the presence of Carola Schouten, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
Many bee species in the Netherlands are not doing so well. Of the 360 bee species in total in the country, half are currently on the endangered species Red List. Take, for instance, the bumble bee family, of which three quarters of the species show a downward trend in numbers found there. The soon-to-be published (March/April) updated Red List, depicting the health status of bees in the Netherlands in 2017 (compared to 1950), is not expected to show a more positive picture. A lot has to do with changing landscape structures, as many of the wild bees have very specific dietary and nesting preferences. Moreover, some have limited flight ranges (correlated to their body size), so distances between food, nesting sites and nest building materials also need to be manageable for them.
Tom Smit, Coralie van Breukelen-Groeneveld and Hinse Boonstra represented Bayer at the event’s market place.
The Dutch strategy – named ‘Bed & Breakfast for Bees’ - focuses on three specific areas to improve the situation: 1. Promotion of biodiversity, aiming at food and nesting habitat improvements in cities and rural areas; 2. Improvement of the nature-agriculture interaction to create a good habitat for bees in all parts of the agricultural environment, ensuring that agriculture that is more nature-based and supporting pollinator-friendly operational management and 3. Helping beekeepers improve the health of their honey bees by making the bees more resistant against pests and diseases.
Many stakeholders can positively contribute to this, like the agricultural sector, landscape managers and governments, requiring cooperation between all and coordinated action. Seventy concrete initiatives – two of which Bayer is involved in - were put forward to drive the strategy. Advice from bee experts will be at hand and progress will be monitored and discussed each year.
The event offered an exciting program, with inspirational talks on what the strategy means for different partners, crash courses in bee biology, bee cabaret, workshops and networking at the market place (naturally with a Bayer stand showing all we do for pollinator health around the world).
‘It was great to see the openness and willingness to exchange on this important topic and I am hopeful that the many positive initiatives will contribute to improving the health of pollinators in the Netherlands’, said Coralie van Breukelen, Head of Bayer Bee Care, who together with Damien Viollet, Country Head Benelux, signed the national pollinator strategy for Bayer.
The Netherlands is also looking beyond its borders, which was evidenced by a substantial number of foreign guests at the event, including the EU Commission, IPBES representation and bee experts from various EU countries. The EU is currently preparing a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020 and the Netherlands is committed to developing and applying pollinator-friendly greening measures and agricultural nature conservation. Chair of the Dutch Federation of Agricultural and Horticultural Organisations, Marc Calon, stressed that it takes smart policy to get things moving, suggesting the introduction of a ‘sustainability menu card’ to account for local and regional differences. The Dutch have also taken the initiative in creating a network of like-minded countries, via the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, which 15 countries have joined so far. Focus is on the development of pollinator strategies, applied research and exchange.
Read more about the Dutch National Strategy here (only in Dutch).
Learn more about our Forward Farms in this article.
Read about the Survival of the fittest – a project with Wageningen University (see page 5 of the BEENOW magazine)
Also find out about Resilient Bees here.