UK Supermarket Trials Donating Waste Sugar To Hungry Bees


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor


The UK's wild bee population has declined by a third in the last decade. Onelia Pena/Shutterstock

If the constant feed of doom and gloom and utter madness in the news lately is getting you down, then here’s a rather lovely story to cheer you up. UK supermarket Tesco is trialling a new project that collects and donates waste sugar to hungry bees to help them get through the winter.

In the first UK trial of its kind, the sugar collection scheme will see stores in Cornwall and Devon, southwest England, gather sugar that has been spilled from split bags and is not fit for human consumption, as well as surplus sugar from their bakeries, and send it to a local bee conservation charity.


During the autumn and winter months, commercial beekeepers and conservationists often give bees a sugar feed, dissolving sugar into water to create a thick syrup in order to help see them through the months when nectar is scarce.

It makes sense if you have a waste product that can help somebody else to team up, so the west country stores are donating their waste sugar to help feed bees reared and bred by the Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall (BIPCo) to preserve native species. Sugar alternatives, however, are a strict no-no and brown sugar apparently gives bees dysentery.

“Recent poor summers have contributed to bees struggling to get enough stores into the hives to feed their colony throughout the winter,” Nick Bentham-Green, chairman of BIPCo, said in a statement. “The Tesco scheme is a great help, especially at this time of year, and is helping towards the conservation of the native British honey bee.”

The UK’s bee population has dropped by a third over the last decade due to disease, pesticides, and foreign pests. There has been a steady decline in wildflowers due to agriculture and industry since the 1930s. Since then, the UK has lost an estimated 97 percent of its wild grasslands and at least two species of bees have become extinct.    


“Bees are not only central to the process of pollinating crops which later become our food but are an iconic part of the Great British countryside,” said Lucy Hughes, community manager of one of the participating stores, who came up with the idea. “I hope this small but important project will go some way to support our local bees and help them through the winter months.”

This is such a simple idea and yet makes perfect sense. It helps local wildlife and instills a sense working together in local communities. So far, it's starting with nearly 10 stores, but who knows, perhaps this is the start of a new worldwide initiative.

[H/T: The Guardian


  • tag
  • conservation,

  • wildlife,

  • bees,

  • food waste,

  • sugar,

  • native species,

  • waste produce,

  • communtiy project,

  • supermarekt