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The Co-operative Plan Bee

Challenge

Address the decline in bee population.

Problem

Bees are a vital part of the ecosystem and pollinate more than 90 different crops – a third of the food we consume. The value of this hidden work has been put at £200 million for the UK economy. Unfortunately, honey bee numbers have fallen by up to 30% in recent years. Widespread loss of bees would lead to the loss of important food crops and have a major impact on farmers and food retailers.

Solution

In 2009 The Co-operative launched Plan Bee: an effort to both understand why the bee population was in decline and to inform the public about the issue and encourage them to help to address it.

Plan Bee takes action by:
  • increasing the number of hives on The Co-op’s own farms and funding projects elsewhere, including in urban areas
  • investing in new scientific research into bee population decline and habitats
  • highlighting how the use of certain pesticides may be linked to the decline in honey bee numbers
  • helping create new habitats, including in the gardens of customers
  • mapping bee populations, some through interaction with the public using digital game platforms and social media
  • connecting beekeepers

Benefits

The Co-operative’s farms have 850 hives – home to 42 million bees
Land area of nearly 10km2 planted with wildflower habitat
One pilot led to three million more bees in Manchester
Media coverage of Plan Bee valued at £1.9 million in 2009

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