Feeds

MPs decry lack of honeybee action

Defra needs stinging into action

High performance access to file storage

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has given "little priority" to protecting the UK's honeybees, and wants the department to up its game in the face of a dramatic population decline.

The PAC estimates the value of the pollinating insects as £200m a year to the agricultural economy. It identifies multiple menaces to the honeybee, including the Varroa mite, "cold, wet weather" and a possible "new threat of Colony Collapse Disorder".*

The PAC reports: "Despite their importance to the agricultural economy the Department has given little priority to bee health. In 2007–08, research expenditure in this field was just £200,000.

"In 2009, the Department announced that this sum is to be supplemented by an extra £2.5m over five years, but this additional work to support the Department’s new Bee Health Strategy will be diluted by including research into other pollinator insects as well as honeybees."

It adds: "Regular inspections of colonies enable the Department to monitor the health of colonies and the incidence of disease and parasites. Nearly 80% of cases of notifiable disease in England are identified through such inspections.

"The effectiveness of these inspections is hampered because around half of the estimated 37,000 active beekeepers in England have not joined the Department’s voluntary register, BeeBase."

In summary, the PAC insists that cash allocated to honeybee research must be ring-fenced. It also suggests that while "maintaining a voluntary approach to registration and inspection, the department should develop a strategy to increase significantly the number of registered beekeepers".

In March, Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government announced their 10-year Healthy Bees plan formulated to "sustain honeybee populations by supporting beekeepers to ensure effective biosecurity measures are adopted to minimise risk from pests and disease".

Its first priority was to "attempt to identify and make contact with perhaps as many as 20,000 amateur beekeepers" to encourage them to sign up to BeeBase and inform the National Bee Unit of any health problems with their honeybees.

The initiative followed government financial intervention back in January, when it injected an extra £4.3m "to safeguard and undertake more research into the health of bees".

The PAC's report is here (pdf). ®

Bootnote

*The PAC does, however, state: "There is no evidence that the increased losses in the United Kingdom are due to Colony Collapse Disorder, which may involve a combination of factors including habitat, food supply and disease."

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.