Dave Goulson: Bees, pesticides and politics

Bee talk sketch notes

Last Friday night we went to the last talk in a series of science talks at the University of Derby. Closing the programme was Dave Goulson, a British biologist, conservationist, and Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex.

I was aware of the plight of the bees before the talk but didn’t really know why the bees were suffering. Dave’s talk was detailed but given in a really friendly and understandable way. There are several contributors to the decline in numbers of bees: habitat loss; disease; and pesticides. Whilst the talk was most mostly about bees, it also included other farmland wildlife that is struggling including birds, butterflies and moths.

One of the main things that stood out in the talk was that scientific studies are quite often undertaken by the companies selling the products. This means that the outcomes could be interpreted in a biased way. Also the pesticides being used on agricultural land are not necessarily effective to the crops they are designed to treat. With seeds that have pesticide coatings, only 5% of the pesticide goes into the crop, 1% is dust while the other ~94% goes into the soil where it accumulates over time.

So what can we do to help?

We were told that the simplest way to help the bees is to plant bee-friendly flowers in our gardens. These need to be planted from seeds as mature plants may have been treated with pesticides – there is no labelling in the UK to let you know if plants have been treated. I’m planning on sowing some bee-friendly flowers in our garden but I don’t have the greenest of fingers. In the meantime, we’ve made a donation to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust which helps cover the costs of a site visit to advise on sympathetic land management for wildlife.

More information

  • You can view the whole sketch note image on my Tumblr page
  • You can make online donations to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
  • You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveGoulson
  • This was the last of this series of #ScienceTALKS but follow the College of Life and Natural Sciences on Twitter @DerbyUniLNS for information on future events.

Helen Clark

The Natural Sciences run in Helen's family with a Biology lecturer grandfather, a Geologist father and a Conservationist brother.

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