We’re working to protect pollinators

Photo credit: Tim Melling  

How you can help

Pollinators are vital to our crops throughout the country from strawberries to tomatoes and without them growing these and other crops would be almost be almost impossible.

The good news is that you can help support our pollinators by planting flowers rich in nectar and pollen, letting your grass grow longer and setting aside some of your garden to grow wild. You can also help Friends of the Earth and the Butterfly Conservation gather as much information about our bee and butterfly populations as possible by using the Great British Bee Count and the big butterfly count app on your tablet or smartphone to record your sightings of bees around the country.

To find out more about The Great British Bee Count, visit Friends of the Earth’s website on 

To find out more about the big butterfly count, visit the Butterfly Conservation’s website on

To download the apps type “Great British Bee Count” and “Butterfly Conservation” into the app store

What we are doing

At Waitrose we recognise the huge importance of protecting and promoting bee populations and we have taken proactive steps over the years in developing the understanding of this complex issue.

Our nurseries set aside a number of grassed and woodlands areas to grow wild, as well as, where possible, allow ditches and edges to grow without being cut back. This encourages a broad range of wild flowers to thrive and therefore provides an excellent habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects. To support pollinator nesting, growers have mature trees and hedgerow around their sites, over the last 15 years over 500 trees have been planted around our growers sites. These remain untouched apart from occasional trimming out of nesting season.

In April 2013, we published a Seven Point Plan for Pollinators.

The Waitrose Seven Point Plan for Pollinators

1. Supporting the EU's review into the use of three key neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam), on crops attractive to bees.

2. Avoiding the use of these three neonicotinoids in our fruit, vegetable and flower supply chains for Waitrose products. This will focus on flowering plants attractive to pollinators and see these pesticides being phased out worldwide, beginning immediately and working over the next two seasons.

3. Supporting further research into pollinators through the University of Exeter. The work will look at the impact of neonicotinoids, other pesticides and the combination of both on pollinators. The results will contribute to the development of alternative methods of pest control if the chemicals are found to have long term adverse effects. This will be a three year programme of work.

4. Ensuring, through our farm engagement and supply chain development work via the Waitrose Farm Assessment that all fresh produce farms initially (and arable farms subsequently) monitor and develop bee/pollinator activity. This is based on our previous work with the University of Sussex, via our Agronomy Group, where Waitrose and our fresh produce suppliers work closely together to strengthen standards.

5. Strengthening control frameworks for our commodity crop ingredients such as wheat and oil seed rape, adopting the LEAF standard in these sectors as a proven platform for future environmental development. This will support the delivery of learnings from our produce agronomy and CEUKF activity in the arable sector. Our own Waitrose farm at Leckford is already LEAF certified for these crops.

6. Engaging our consumers including Waitrose Partners (who are co-owners of our business, as well as working in our business) to gather more data on pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, through their own observations. Customers will be asked to share their observations via web developments and apps that are being developed jointly with Earthwatch and the University of Sussex, to contribute to the growing fact base on pollinators and so help to frame future developments that support pollinators.

7. Investing in the development of organic farming to support a wide range of crops that enable choice for consumers. Our support for organic farming also extends to funding from the sale of Duchy Originals from Waitrose that, via the Prince of Wales Charitable Trust, is enabling the Soil Association to develop and share learnings from organic farming across all farming areas to support and strengthen sustainability for the future.