Queen bee and common wealth

Paul de Zylva

26 November 2015

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, David Cameron and leaders of over 50 Commonwealth nations are in Malta for the biennial Heads of Commonwealth Government Meeting.

These summits are a kind of pollination. Even more reason for bees and pollinators to be on their agenda.

Bee Tea

David Cameron and other leaders are here debating our ability to cope with rapid climate change and the growing lack of water and food security – in a word, resilience.

Serious debate about resilience would be incomplete without action to reverse bee decline – rather like trying to make tea without boiling water.

Food security needs to address how we tackle bee decline.


The many foods, medicines and materials we take for granted every day are only available to us because of bees.

70% of the world’s 124 most traded crops depend on the vital free service we get from bees and other beneficial creatures visiting and pollinating plants.

Most of these crops are economic staples for Commonwealth nations - from Ghana and Cameroon’s cocoa, and Uganda and Papua New Guinea’s coffee, to Zambia’s peanuts.

India relies on pollination for its aubergines and tomatoes - and Australia loves its Macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds.

Where would New Zealand be without its exports of apples and kiwi fruit?

Even its production of butter and lamb depends partly on pollination of clover and other fodder grown to feed cows and sheep.

Common Wealth

Bee decline is a growing food security issue. Without action to help bees, people in all countries will have less rich, varied and nutritious diets.

Bees and Pollinators: A Commonwealth Concern, our new report launched at a packed event with the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council, highlights how much Commonwealth states depend on pollinators.

In the report, top scientist, Professor Simon Potts, says:

“The Commonwealth depends on these unsung pollinating heroes to help ensure plenty of good quality food is available, our economies prosper and our wildlife thrives.” 


Bees & Pollinators report


The report shows how Commonwealth states can act to reverse bee and pollinator decline, from improving how we farm, to the planning and development of towns and cities.

It also considers whether we can support bees to help us be resilient?” How do you think Commonwealth leaders will answer?

Join the discussion

We want to share your ideas, along with our report and feedback from the people at the report launch, with leaders.

Whether you – or your food - comes from a Commonwealth country, what do you think leaders should be doing to reverse bee and pollinator decline?

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