Boost for bee health

January 11, 2013

From: Smallholder

New plans to help beekeepers protect their hives from pests and reduce losses of bees have been unveiled.

Defra has outlined proposals which build on the success of current policies to support beekeepers in identifying and managing pests such as the potentially devastating Varroa mite which is considered the single greatest problem for beekeepers. A consultation has been published today seeking views from all beekeepers on how best to provide more support to improve honey bee health.

There is an estimated 44,000 beekeepers in England and Wales, of which more than 99 per cent keep bees as a hobby. The consultation is designed to ensure that these beekeepers, as well as our commercial bee farmers, have access to the latest information on dealing with pests.

Animal Welfare Minister, Lord de Mauley, said: “Honeybees are an iconic species which are vital to the environment and I want to make sure that we do all we can to safeguard their future.

“But these bees are susceptible to pests and diseases and need to be cared for properly to aid their long-term survival which is why we’re consulting on new measures to help beekeepers and improve bee health.”

The proposals include: Increased effort to tackle spread of the Varroa mite, including improved guidance for bee keepers from the National Bee Unit (NBU), and a new rolling training programme run by the NBU and British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) for all bee keepers.

Rewarding bee farmers demonstrating good management of their hives, including reducing the number of official inspections they require from Government; Renewed emphasis on increasing our resilience and preparedness for exotic threats, such as the small hive beetle; A new welfare code to remind beekeepers of their responsibility to their bees; The new plans have been drawn up by beekeeping experts including representatives from the NBU, BBKA and the Bee Farmers Association (BFA).

Notes to editors Advice on beekeeping can be found on the NBU’s BeeBase website The website also contains details on how to join BeeBase, a free database which links apiarists with other nearby beekeepers to help track pests and disease that might be a problem in the area and provides guidance on how to tackle them.

The consultation will run from the 10 January to 9 March

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