A website designed to help farmers keep beekeepers informed of their spraying intentions has been launched nationally.
Called BeeConnected, the scheme has been developed under the so-called Voluntary Initiative (VI) and follows a pilot scheme in Hertfordshire earlier this year.
“BeeConnected operates on a very simple process whereby farmers identify their fields and, in just a few clicks, are able to inform local beekeepers when they intend to spray an insecticide in particular fields,” explained VI chairman Richard Butler.
“Beekeepers plot the location of their hives, and will then receive a notification ahead of when a farmer within their locality is planning to undertake a spray event.”
According to the organisers, the relationship between farmers and beekeepers is a vital one, with about 70 of the crops grown in the UK being dependent on, or benefiting from visits from bees.
“The countryside is a shared place, and beekeepers need farmers as much as farmers need beekeepers,” said arable farmer Andrew Watts who was involved in the pilot study.
“Anything that improves the communication, as BeeConnected does, is a good thing.
“For example, bees are early risers, but they’re early to bed too. So when we spray our beans for bruchid beetle, we tend to spray late in the evening.”
Hertfordshire beekeeper Mat Smith, who was also involved in the pilot, says the new website is a big improvement on the current Spray Liaison Officer system of communication.
“It was very easy to set up, and the alerts came through in time for me to take action to protect my bees,” he said.
The site was funded by the Crop Protection Association. Farmers and beekeepers can register by visiting the BeeConnected website.