Feeds

Defra moves to protect UK honeybees

Consultation first step to concrete strategy

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The combined forces of the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Assembly today announced the first step in formulating a strategy to protect the UK's honeybees - a consultation (pdf) which "sets out a plan for the future direction of work aimed at sustaining the health of honeybees and beekeeping in England and Wales for the next decade".

According to Defra, there are around "44,000 beekeepers in the UK who maintain around 274,000 colonies of honeybees" and the "economic value of crops grown commercially in the UK that benefit from bee pollination is estimated at around £120m-£200m" a year.

Defra identifies some of the myriad threats menacing Britain's apine population, and in turn the crops they pollinate, as American Foulbrood and European Foulbrood (bacterial infections of bee larvae), "varroa mites and associated viruses", while "potential exotic threats include small hive beetle, parasitic brood mites and undesirable species such as the Asian hornet, which prey on colonies".

Defra lays out its stall thus: "The strategy seeks to address the challenges facing beekeepers given their important role as custodians of honeybees. It sets out a plan for the future direction of work aimed at sustaining the health of honeybees and beekeeping in England and Wales for the next decade. It recognises the important roles of various stakeholders in implementing the strategy - Government, individual beekeepers, their associations and others, such as honey importers."

Jeff Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health, said: "Honeybees are facing serious threats from a growing number of pests and diseases. It is vital that we do all we can to respond effectively to these threats and to sustain honeybees and beekeeping for today and for future generations.

"The strategy provides direction and focus for Government, beekeepers and other stakeholders working together over the next decade on sustaining honeybees. We are grateful for the constructive engagement with beekeeping associations over recent months to develop the strategy. Once the final strategy is published after consultation, we will need to work with the associations on a suitable implementation plan."

Interestingly, Defra's press release makes no mention* of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has blighted bee populations worldwide. The UK's apiarists recently demanded £8m for a research project aimed at saving the nation's honeybees from extinction, and specifically cited CCD as a major threat.

Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeeping Association, said: "Beekeeping is still reeling from the varroa mite, which carries a number of viruses and which devastated thousands of hives across the country when it reached Britain ten years ago. Now there is a real danger that colony collapse disease - which has wiped out 80 per cent of bees in parts of the US - will appear in this country. Unless we develop effective protection, there could then be massive losses of bees across the country."

Defra's consultation runs until 29 August. There are full details here. ®

Bootnote

*The consultation document lists this "significant endemic risk" to honeybees: "Honeybee viruses associated with varroa infestation leading to colony losses. An increase in colony losses has been observed over recent years, mainly due to varroa and viruses, though other as yet undetermined causes could be contributing to losses."

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?