Half of the 2,054 respondents to the YouGov poll, commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FoE), said they would consider avoiding pesticides in their garden. The survey arrives days after research found that plants laced with toxic pesticides are being sold by top retailers including Aldi and Homebase.

“Garden centres and retailers must listen to the public and ensure that their garden plants aren’t grown with pesticides that could harm our bees and other pollinators,” FoE chief executive Craig Bennett said. “People are concerned about the plight of Britain’s bees and are keen to help them – as our survey shows.”

A scientific study carried out last week found that more than 70% of plants tested from garden centres at firms such as Aldi, Wyevale and Homebase contained neonicotinoid pesticides – including three pesticides restricted across Europe that have been found to pose a ‘high acute risk’ to honeybees.

Neonics have been in use for more than 20 years and are linked to serious harm in bees. Some bee species are thought to have declined by up to 30% in the last 20 years due to the use of neonic pesticides on plants and crops. 

Great British Bee Count

B&Q last week became the first home improvement retailer to announce it will grow its flowering plant range free from all neonics. And more than 16,000 people have since joined FoE’s online petition to encourage Homebase and Wyevale to follow suit. FoE has also launched a Great British Bee Count app to encourage people to take action to support the flying insect.  

Bee expert Professor Dave Goulson – who carried out last week’s research – said:  “It seems pretty outrageous that well-meaning gardeners may be buying plants to help the bees and inadvertently poisoning them.

“The Great British Bee Count is a wonderful opportunity to get the nation out looking at bees and other insects, and appreciating all that they do for us.”

His views were echoed by TV presenter Michaela Strachan, who is supporting the Great British Bee Count: “The humble bee is a vital pollinator,” she said. “Buzzing around our gardens and countryside, it’s a hard working little insect that pollinates our flowers and crops. But unfortunately these beautiful insects are under-threat.”

In a statement, an Aldi spokesperson told edie: “Since October 2016, Aldi has not sold any bedding plants with neonicotinoids”. Meanwhile, Wyevale Garden Centres said it was “working towards ensuring we are following best practice in this matter”.

George Ogleby

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