An initiative in Brighton aimed at helping protect the bee population is criticised by scientists who have warned that more harm could be done than good. The council in Brighton has passed a planning condition for all new developments over five metres high will have to include swift boxes and special bricks with holes known as bee bricks. They will provide nesting and hibernating space for solitary bees.
However, scientists have warned that the proposals will not improve biodiversity, with some arguing that it could make matters worse for bees if the holes are not cleaned properly and attract mites or encourage the spread of disease.
The idea was first raised in 2019 by councillor Robert Nemeth, and the condition was attached to all planning permissions after 1 April 2020.
Prof’ Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex, said he had tried a bee brick out and that the holes were not deep enough to be “ideal homes for bees” but “are probably better than nothing”. He added: “Bee bricks seem like a displacement activity to me. We are kidding ourselves if we think having one of these in every house is going to make any real difference for biodiversity. Far more substantial action is needed, and these bricks could easily be used as ‘greenwash’ by developers.”
Adam Hart, an entomologist and professor of science communication at the university of Gloucestershire, said that sometimes “well-meaning interventions can have unwanted consequences”.
Nemeth, who is also a beekeeper, said: “There’s a well-known saying in the beekeeping world that if you ask 100 different beekeepers a question then you get 101 different answers.
“It’s going to take some years yet to establish the degree of effectiveness of bee bricks but it’s heartening to know that studies are under way. What is definite though is that carrying on with the status quo of ignoring nature in many new-build properties is a biodiversity disaster of the highest order.”
Source: The Gaurdian
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