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BeeConnected to improve communication with beekeepers

Honeybee in wildflower margin

An innovative new scheme called BeeConnected has been launched with the aim of improving two-way communication between farmers and beekeepers.

The relationship between farmers and beekeepers is vital. In the UK around 70 of the crops grown are dependent on, or benefit from, visits from bees, a value which is estimated at over £200 million per year.

Current best agricultural practice, as advocated by farm assurance schemes and the UK code of practice for pesticide use, requires that notification takes place to minimise the risk to bees of spraying. However, the traditional system of notifying Spray Liaison Officers (SLOs), who acted as go between the farmers and beekeepers, has not always been straightforward.

Through BeeConnected, farmers and sprayer operators can register, identify their fields and, in a few simple clicks, inform local beekeepers when they intend to spray an insecticide in particular fields.

Similarly, bee farmers and beekeepers across the country are being encouraged to register and plot the location of their hives, whether permanently or temporarily placed. Beekeepers will receive a notification when a farmer within their locality (up to a maximum of 5km) is intending to spray within that vicinity. This allows the beekeeper to be in an informed position to decide what action, if any, to take.

The notification system is being promoted by the Voluntary Initiative (VI) who have worked closely with the Crop Protection Association, British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU). The development of the site has been funded by the CPA.