Online bee protection service to go live

A crop spraying notification scheme can help farmers and beekeepers.  Picture: James Hardisty

A crop spraying notification scheme can help farmers and beekeepers. Picture: James Hardisty

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A scheme to better manage crop spraying and the protection of populations of bees is being rolled out across the country after a successful pilot.

Farmers nationwide can sign up to a new notification system this September which they can use to identify their fields and inform local beekeepers when they intend to spray an insecticide in particular fields.

The ‘BeeConnected’ system will go live to coincide with autumn spraying and is being opened up to farmers and beekeepers across the UK following a successful pilot across Hertfordshire.

The online initiative was showcased at the arable farming event Cereals in Cambridgeshire this week.

It is being promoted by the Voluntary Initiative (VI), who have worked closely with the Crop Protection Association (CPA), the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) and the National Farmers’ Union.

Nick von Westenholz, chief executive officer of the CPA, which has funded the online system’s development, said: “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.”

Following the September launch, BeeConnected will operate on a two-way communication process. Farmers will be able to identify their fields and inform local beekeepers when they intend to spray an insecticide in particular fields, and similarly, beekeepers will be able to plot the location of their hives, whether permanently or temporarily placed.

Tim Lovett, public affairs director at the BBKA, said: “Feedback from beekeepers in Hertfordshire has been positive.

“Beekeepers simply receive a notification telling them when a spray event is happening nearby and what type of insecticide is being used, which helps them decide what action to take.”

The website will allow farmers to retain anonymity by default.

To register for the scheme, visit www.beeconnected.org.uk

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