Online scheme launched to connect growers and beekeepers

A new web-based scheme has been launched for growers to tell beekeepers when they are planning to spray crops with insecticide with a few clicks.

The  scheme, called BeeConnected, has been rolled out as a pilot across Hertfordshire to make communication between growers and beekeepers hassle-free.

Current best agricultural practice, as advocated by farm assurance schemes and the UK code of practice for pesticide use, requires growers to notify local beekeepers before they spray crops to minimise the risk to bees.

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The traditional system of notifying Spray Liaison Officers (SLOs), who act as the messenger between farmers and beekeepers, has not always been totally effective.

The BeeConnected scheme is asking growers in Hertfordshire to register, identify their fields and inform local beekeepers when they plan to spray an insecticide in particular fields.

Beekeepers in the county are also being encouraged to register and plot the location of their hives. They will then get a notification when a grower within a 5km (3.1 mile) radius is expected to be spraying crops.

Chris Hartfield, horticultural policy adviser and lead on bee health issues at the NFU, said: “This is a great opportunity for all farmers across the Hertfordshire region.

“Once they register for BeeConnected they will be automatically notified of beehives in their area and will be able to update their communications with beekeepers accordingly.”

The scheme is expected to be expanded to a nationwide level later this year.

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