Comment: Visit was the bee’s knees

07 May 2011..James Dornan MSP Glasgow Cathcart / Scottish National Party pictured in the garden lobby during the MSP registration session. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
07 May 2011..James Dornan MSP Glasgow Cathcart / Scottish National Party pictured in the garden lobby during the MSP registration session. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

I recently had the great pleasure of visiting Merrylee Primary School to hear from the children about the work they have been doing to highlight the importance of saving bee colonies in Scotland.

I was extremely impressed with the children’s work and discovered that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks!

As a result of the pupils’ studies, Conrad House, supported by his brother Jasper, took the initiative to design and organise a petition to Save the Bees. I was delighted when the boys, along with their mother Claire, accepted my invitation to visit me at the Scottish Parliament to officially present me with the petition. I have passed it on to the Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead for his consideration, as part of their visit the family enjoyed their time visiting the Parliament’s bee hives.

The importance of bee colonies should not be underestimated. Bees are an integral part of our eco system.

No other single species plays a more significant role in producing fruit and vegetables, produce that we all take for granted. We also need to take cognisance of their role in the reproduction of flowers and other flora.

I was struck by a recent Greenpeace report that investigated the importance of bee colonies across the world. The recommendations that came from the report proposed a number of measures that would protect bee colonies. These proposals included; phasing out all chemical pesticides that are harmful to bees and other wildlife (there is scientific speculation that these pesticides may also be harmful to human health); a greater emphasis on habitat conservation within agricultural landscapes as these habitats are essential in supporting wildlife biodiversity, including bees. Furthermore, farms should promote semi-natural habitat restoration as this is crucial in the recovery of wild bee populations and in maintaining maximum pollination of crops and wild plants. Finally, habitat enhancement with wild flower strips. These strips provide floral resources for bees and encourage the pollination of nectar flower and seed mixes, while employing natural pest control techniques.

Of course my constituency also houses the Battlefield Rest, which now has bee hives on the roof to provide in-house honey for their menus. I was delighted to hear that the restaurant was recently awarded the Ospitalita’Italiana, from the UK Italian Chamber of Commerce, recognising the excellence of their authentic Italian cuisine and hospitality. This is the crowning glory of twenty years’ hard work in restoring the B listed building into the glorious landmark that we admire today, and in providing a hugely enjoyable gastronomic experience that is shared by many, both by local residents, including myself, and by many from beyond the neighbourhood.

I was overwhelmed by Conrad and Jasper’s passion and enthusiasm for saving our bee colonies. They are a fine example of the intelligent, committed and socially aware children being educated in our schools today.

They along with their classmates, teachers and staff of Merrylee Primary School deserve our deepest thanks and warmest congratulations.