• David Cameron stung by beekeepers

    29th April 2013 | News | Claire
  • Beekeepers have hit out at David Cameron, the Prime Minister, for falsely claiming to be life patron of a beekeeping club and failing to ban pesticides blamed for killing the pollinators.

    In Prime Minister’s Questions last week Mr Cameron claimed to be life patron of the Oxfordshire Beekeepers’ Association.

    But although he was president for five years and took a keen interest in bees – even visiting the club’s training apiary, he is no longer an official patron.

    John Craven OBE, the presenter on Countryfile, is the current president of the association.

    Peter Randall, the Treasurer of the OBA, said a letter had been sent to Number 10 informing Mr Cameron of the error.

    He also said some beekeepers are unhappy with Mr Cameron for failing to maintain his interest in bees and back calls for a ban on a pesticide blamed for killing the insects.

    Countries will vote on whether to ban neonicotinoids in Brussels on Monday.

    Unless the proposals change, Owen Paterson, the UK’s Environment Secretary and a close ally of Mr Cameron, is set to vote against the ban.

    Mr Randall said many beekeepers are angry that the prime minister has failed to back a ban, despite his early interest in bees.
    Neonicotinoids have been linked to bee decline in a number of studies.

    “I would like it if he [the Prime Minister] showed more interest and the Government supported a ban,” he said.

    Mr Randall pointed out that other countries have banned certain uses of neonicotinoids, including France, and shops, including Waitrose and the Cooperative have phased out use on their farms.
    He said beekeepers are split over whether there should be a ban on neonicotinoids across Europe.

    The British Beekeepers Association are not in favour of a ban but many individual members are increasingly angry about the failure to protect bees.
    “Every beekeeper has his own opinion, some are more concerned than others,” he added.

    Andrew Pendleton, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Campaigns, said Mr Cameron should listen to his old beekeeping friends.

    “Mr Cameron may not be life patron of Oxfordshire beekeepers, but if he takes decisive action to safeguard Britain’s threatened bees he will be performing an even more important beekeeping role.

    “The UK Government should back European proposals to restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee decline,” he said.

    Mr Cameron did admitted in the House he has been “neglecting his duties” as an associate of beekeepers but insisted he did care about the future of pollinators.

    “I know how important this issue is. If we don’t look after our bee populations very, very serious consequences will follow,” he told the Commons.

    In a statement, Number 10 said: “The prime minister has a long and happy connection with the Oxfordshire Bee Keepers’ Association.

    “For some years he was honorary president. This position recently came to an end.

    “The prime minister is a strong advocate of beekeeping in his constituency and as he said in the house it’s important we look after our bee population.”