This morning I received an email from Public Policy Exchange (PPE) inviting me to a conference in London in November entitled “Biodiversity and Local Partnerships: Halting the Decline of the Honey Bee in the UK”
The opening statement on the website and the official flyer convinced me that the organisers have been misinformed; all of it is wrong:
“Healthy honey bee populations are vital to food and crop production, and the natural environment. In the UK, honey bees are responsible for 80% of pollination, and a third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.”
Where are they getting this information from? Who is feeding organisations like the PPE this kind of bullshit? Is it bee keeping organisations? I’d really like to know.
Honeybees are responsible for only one third of the crop pollination in the UK (Breeze et al. 2011), and a very small proportion of the wild plant pollination. Wild bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and other pollinators are much more important than honeybees, and collectively they are responsible for this pollination, not just managed honeybees. No one is denying that honey bees are important, but there is absolutely nothing to gain (and a lot to lose in terms of science credibility) by over-playing their importance, as I’ve argued in the peer-reviewed literature.
It’s not as if this is the only recent example, The Daily Express online has recently been equally ignorant of the facts, and didn’t even get the right bee in the accompanying image.
It’s interesting that the PPE website also uses the infamous not-Einstein quote, though they cite the author as “unknown”. With good reason, because that’s bullshit too.
I won’t be attending the conference.