Feeds

Defra steps up probe into honeybee wipeout

UK hives hit hard

The Power of One Infographic

The Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced it is giving "higher priority" to the investigation of bee fatalities following "early signs of significant colony losses across the country".

Defra has mobilised inspectors from the National Bee Unit (NBU) to probe this year's losses, which it admits have "no obvious explanation" such as "poor husbandry or varroa [mite]" - two factors fingered for losses in 2007.

Defra makes no direct reference to Colony Collapse Disorder - the unexplained disappearance of millions of honeybees which has hit hives across the world - but significantly notes that samples of dead bees collected last year "indicated high levels of the parasite Nosema spp coupled with virus (particularly chronic bee paralysis virus)".

In April 2007, US scientists identified the single-celled fungus Nosema ceranae in dead bees from hives in California, leading them to identify it as a possible major contributory factor in CCD. They did, however, describe the findings as "highly preliminary".

Defra, meanwhile, suggests other factors may too have contributed to the sorry state of UK bees. It explains: "The position this year may be different given that the wet weather experienced in summer 2007 meant that bees were confined to their hives for long periods and were therefore unable to forage for sufficient nectar and pollen to sustain them over winter.

"The poor spring we've experienced also extended the bees confinement. This additional stress is likely to have provided the opportunity for pathogen spread, virus levels to build up and Nosema, where it was present, to have a greater impact."

Defra is currently conducting a consultation (pdf) designed as a first step in formulating a long-term strategy to protect the UK's honeybees. In March, apiarists warned that without drastic action, British populations would be extinct within ten years. ®

Bootnote

The British Beekeepers Association has an e-petition designed to prompt the government into action, which you can sign here.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.