Pollinating bees contribute an estimated £651m to the UK's economy each year by helping crops to grow, researchers at the University of Reading have suggested - £150m more than the value of tourism brought to Britain by the Royal Family.
The results, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that apples and strawberries are particularly reliant on the bees for survival – respectively, 85 per cent and 45 per cent of their crops would disappear without them. other crops helped by pollinating bees include pears, blueberries, tomatoes, plums and rapeseed oil.
And it is rapeseed that's behind bees' huge economic impact. A previous study, also carried out by researchers at the University of Reading, found that the economic contribution of bees went up from just £220m in 1996 to £651m in 2012 because of an increase in production of this crop.
Tom Breeze, who was involved in the report, told City A.M.: "We are growing more rapeseed, and although not essential bees can help push yields up by 20 per cent."
It is critical to protect a wide range of bees and other insects now so that, as Britain's climate, environment and crop varieties change, we can call on the pollinating species which are best suited to the task.