For several years the plight of British honey bees has been in the news. Hives have been dying and honey crops reducing. What is to be done? During 2008, the UK Government appeared unwilling to increase its level of funding for research on honey bee health, yet action was clearly needed. LASI decided to be pro-active, devising the 'Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health and Well Being' and seeking funding from the British public.
The first contribution was from Michael Chowen, a local businessman who has been a major benefactor of the University of Sussex and who immediately realised the importance of research on honey bee health. Subsequently, the Sussex Plan has received donations from many concerned donors, including individuals, charities, and businesses. Rowse Honey Ltd., Burt's Bees, Waitrose, the Body Shop Foundation, the British Beekeepers Association, Mr David Reed and the Nineveh Charitable Trust have all made major donations. These donations show the importance the British public places on honey bees.
The five-year Sussex Plan comprises five projects in 'Honey Bee Health and Well Being'. The projects will each last approximately four years and will employ one or two research scientists who will lead the project alongside Professor Ratnieks. Each project will also enable the training of one or two doctoral students. In addition, local volunteers and University of Sussex undergraduate students doing their final year projects or doing summer research bursaries are also working on the Sussex Plan.
The Sussex Plan started in October 2008.