A third of Britain’s bee species have become extinct or are struggling to survive in parts of the country due to intensive farming, climate change and pesticides, a survey has revealed.
About 17 species have disappeared from the east of England, which was the focus of the study because it is important for agriculture and home to internationally significant populations of bees.
Another 25 species are threatened and 31 are of conservation concern in the region, which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The Bees Under Siege report used research by wildlife charities Buglife and WWF to analyse data on 228 species.
It found extinct species included the great yellow bumblebee, the potter flower bee and the cliff mason bee. Similar declines were seen in other parts of the country, WWF said.
However, species including the garden bumblebee and shrill carder bee are on the rise in the east, which supports major populations due to the diversity of habitat. The insects, estimated to be worth £690million (R12.65billion) to Britain’s economy, pollinate three-quarters of global crops and are said to be responsible for one out of every three mouthfuls Britons eat.
The report suggests protecting grassland, coastal areas, brownfield sites and farmland habitats to reverse the decline.
Matt Shardlow, of Buglife, said: “Imagine living on a tiny oasis in a fiery desert with barely any food, water or shelter. That is what the countryside is like for wild pollinators.”