Bee eating honey on spoon via Shutterstock
Strawberry-loving Brits may be in for a bit of a rude awakening according to a new report released by the University of Reading and charity Friends of the Earth. The study quantifies the fears we’ve been hearing about all over the world about what would happen if bee populations keep declining at their current pace, warning that without the help of the insects, strawberry prices could increase a startling 84 percent in the UK. To put those numbers into perspective, the study used the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament as an example, stating that a 10-strawberry basket would be sold at concession stands for the extremely unreasonable cost of £4.14 (or about $6.50) if the country continues to lose its bees.
Strawberry berry with green leaf and bee via Shutterstock
Of course, the sweet and tart summer treats aren’t the only fruits that would be affected by the bee decline. “Strawberries are just one example of the hundreds of different fruits, vegetables and plants that depend on bees for their survival,” explained Simon Potts, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at the University of Reading. “Unless we do more to protect these pollinating heroes, it’s not just the tennis fans at Wimbledon that will be the poorer – the health of our countryside and the security of our food supply will be at risk.”
The findings showed that without bees, it would cost the U.K. a whopping £1.8 billion per annum to hand-pollinate strawberry crops, which are particularly reliant on bees for pollination. The is also research to suggest that the quality, taste and nutrient levels of fruit and vegetables is enhanced by natural bee pollination.
“This research is a warning we must listen to,” said Paul De Zylva, Nature Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Without bees, we could pay a fortune for our fruit and the quality would suffer too. “Unless we make changes to the way we farm and plan our towns and cities it will be game, set and match for bees.”