Bees and Taxes Circa. 1817

tax collecters


Bees and Taxes
Circa. 1817 – Swarm of Tax Gatherers (or) Blessings of Britain
By Thomas Tegg

British households are represented by large straw bee-hives; these are assailed by tax-collectors and their satellites who run through the air in a swarm. One hive is in the foreground (right), the two next are in the middle distance, with a line of little hives in the distance, curving to the left margin. John Bull, ragged but chubby, stands defiantly on the step of his hive, defending it with a stake shaped like a rough pitchfork and inscribed ‘Prop of Reform’; with this he prods the foremost collector, who drops book and pen in dismay. Behind him in the doorway is his wife, brandishing a poker, while three ragged and terrified small children cluster round the door. Other tax-gatherers assail the upper part of the hive; one has made a hole in the straw and puts in his hand; he has already seized honey. Another man departs with chunks of honeycomb, but his coat-tails are clutched by a man who leans from a hole in the hive. Another collector runs through the air, laden with spoil. More of the swarm are still advancing, holding pen and book or paper. One, holding up a constable’s staff, holds out a ‘Warrant [of] Distress . . John Bull’ [scarcely legible]; another has a huge book inscribed ‘Poor’s Rate’. Other books are inscribed ‘Kings Tax’ and ‘Assess’d Taxes’. One man holds out a paper inscribed ‘Snatch Broker & Sworn Appraiser’. The men recede in perspective towards the upper left corner of the design, from which the swarm is descending upon the hives. A tax-gatherer enters the door of the second hive, while another stands on the upper part nailing on it a placard: ‘Kings Taxes’. In the foreground (right) beside the hive a broken cord drops from a clothes-prop weighted down with tattered garments. On the left is a smoking manure-heap inscribed ‘Ministrial Dung-hill’; on this lies a paper, ‘Prope[rty] Tax’ [now removed, see No. 12750, &c.], and from it grow toadstools inscribed ‘Place, Pension’, and ‘Sinecure’. After the title:

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Adopt A Hive

‘”All with united force combine to Drive,”
“The lazy Drones from the laborious Hive.” Virgil’
Above the design: ‘Quarter Day.’
Plate numbered 389.
January 1817

Pesticides could lead to shortage of crop pollinators – EU report


* EU restriction on neonicotinoids to be reviewed this year

* Value of pollination in Europe seen at 14.6 bln euros

BRUSSELS, April 8 (Reuters) – Evidence is mounting that widely-used pesticides harm moths, butterflies and birds as well as bees, adding to concerns crop production could be hit by a shortage of pollinators, according to a report drawn up for EU policymakers.

The European Commission, the EU executive, placed restrictions on three neonicotinoid pesticides from Dec. 1, 2013, citing worries about their impact on bees, but said it would review the situation within two years at most.

The makers most affected include Bayer CropScience and Syngenta.

When the restrictions were agreed, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC), a network  of EU science academies that seeks to inform EU policymakers, assembled 13 experts to assess the relevant science.

Its report published on Wednesday found there was “an increasing body of evidence” that neonicotinoids, used in more than 120 countries, have “severe negative effects on non-target organisms”.

Bees are, generally speaking, the most important crop pollinators.

But the report said relying on one species was unwise and found the attention on bees had masked the impact on other pollinators such as moths and butterflies, as well as birds, which eat some pests.

Citing an increase in crops that require or benefit from pollination, the report noted “an emerging pollination deficit”.

Proponents of neonicotinoids say they have a major economic benefit because they destroy pests and help to ensure abundant food for a growing world population.

But the report cited the monetary benefits of protecting pollinators and natural pest controllers.

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Some 75 percent of crops traded on the global market depend on pollinators and the value of pollination in Europe is estimated at 14.6 billion euros ($15.9 billion).

Natural pest control, whereby insects, such as wasps and ladybirds, as well as birds consume enough pests to avoid the need for chemical treatment, is estimated to be worth $100 billion annually worldwide.

Neonicotinoids are synthetic chemicals that act systemically, meaning they are absorbed and spread through the plant’s vascular system, which becomes toxic for insects sucking the circulating fluids or ingesting parts of it.

The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), which represents the pesticide industry, said the new report was biased.

In a statement Jean-Charles Bocquet, ECPA Director General, said it reflected “a bias of the anti-neonicotinoid campaign toward highly theoretical laboratory tests rather than fully considering published field studies and other independent research that proves the safety of these pesticides”.

The Commission welcomed the report and said it would start a review of new scientific information by the end of May.


Farm walk to highlight the importance of all pollinators

While the honey bee plays an important role in pollinating our crops and garden plants, we have at least 1,500 other species of insect pollinators in the UK that play an even greater role in pollination services to growers, writes Dr Nicola Hall.

pollen bee


These include bumble bees, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths.

In terms of pollination activity and success, farmers and fruit growers may not know how much we rely on these native pollinators to achieve yields.

As a result of the way the landscape has changed over the last 50 or more years,  not all insect pollinators can readily find the food and shelter they need.

Defra’s Pollinator Strategy, published in November 2014, is a Call to Action to address this issue by urging farmers and landowners to take a few simple steps to help meet pollinator needs.

The Campaign for the Farmed Environment will be hosting a series of events to show farmers and land managers how to enhance the value of land for pollinators, and to learn how pollinator services play a key role in their farm business success.

Land managers are invited along to a farm walk to learn more.

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The walk will be guided by expert speakers include insect guru Nigel Jones from  BWARS (Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society) who is co-author of Bees, Wasps and Ants of Shropshire, and Syngenta’s consultant advisor Marek Nowakowski from the Wildlife Farming Company, advising on how to successfully create and manage sown plots for pollinators and farmland birds.

County CFE co-ordinators will be on hand to provide information about  options for future stewardship agreements, including measures for wild pollinators and wildlife that will help applications achieve higher scores in these competitive schemes.

The Campaign is supported by Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator which helps growers to successfully establish and manage pollen and nectar-rich habitats on less productive areas around the farm, with the aim of maintained and improved crop yields through adoption of these sustainable practices.

A new one-year Bees’n’Seeds mix is designed to attract and feed pollinators, along with hosting insects that are important food sources for farmland bird chicks.

Attendees will receive a voucher for a Bees’n’Seeds mix offer which they can redeem at a cost of just £50 per pack to eligible growers.

The Farm Walk will take place on Thursday, April 16, from 10.30am until 2pm with lunch provided, kindly hosted by Mr & Mrs Ellsmoor of Dorrington Hall Farm, Woore, CW3 9RR.

Spaces will be limited therefore booking is essential.

To book a place call Beth on 01270 613195 or e-mail

* Dr Nicola Hall is Farm Environmental Advisor and Cheshire Co-ordinator for the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.


Bee study reopens debate on neonics



Goulson says bees are exposed to sufficient doses of neonicotinoids to reduce nest growth

A bee expert has called into question the basis of the Government’s position on neonicotinoid insecticides, saying the study it cited actually shows the chemicals to be harmful to bumblebees even in minute quantities.

In a paper published last month in the journal PeerJ, Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex re-analysed a 2012 field study by the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA).

He found a strong negative relationship between neonicotinoid contamination and both bee colony growth and queen production.

“This experiment shows that bumblebees on normal working farms in the UK are exposed to mixtures of neonicotinoids and the dose they receive is sufficient to reduce nest growth and the number of queens,” said Goulson.

“Even doses of clothianidin below 0.3 parts per billion appear to be enough to do significant harm.”

The original FERA report said “no clear consistent relationships were observed” between neonicotinoid residues and colony mass or the number of queens produced. Then Defra secretary Owen Paterson said at the time of its publication: “We did not see grounds for a ban based on our field trial data.”

Responding to the new analysis, NFU acting chief horticulture and potatoes adviser Chris Hartfield said it added nothing to the argument over neonicotinoids. “Defra’s position didn’t hinge on this one piece of work, which the authors admitted had issues and was discredited by opponents of neonics at the time, so this paper adds nothing to the argument.”

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He added: “Other recent papers seem to back the case that neonics do not harm bees at field-level doses.”

A FERA representative said: “We clearly stated that our experiment lacked the power to reach any firm conclusions about the impact of neonicotinoid-coated seed on bumblebee health. Whilst there was an absence of evidence to support the hypothesis that neonicotinoids harm bees, this does not mean that they are benign.”

A Defra representative added: “We continue to work with the EU and our independent advisory committee to review any new research.”

Double boost: Flower strips benefit bees

Flower strips on agricultural land not only attract bumblebees but enable their populations to grow, according to latest University of Sussex research.

A two-year study of farms in West Sussex and Hampshire by PhD researcher Thomas Wood, supervised by Professor Dave Goulson, found far higher nesting density of more common bumblebee species where bee-friendly strips had been sown under the Defra-funded Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

But there was little recorded benefit to rarer species, which tend to forage closer to nests. “The flower-rich strips on farms may be too few to benefit those species unable to cover larger distances,” said Wood.