Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Buzzzzz.... Don't kill the honey bee (but wasps are ok)!

There's a debate in Westminster Hall today about the future of the bee industry. Its not something I'd ever thought about before, but given that I do like honey and even had some on my porridge this morning, I thought I'd read up about it.

It seems our bees are under threat. A deadly virus spread by the Varroa mite is threatening them, and as a result Britain's bee population has been drastically reduced. Given that in 2001 there were around 4000 beekeepers in Wales, with approximately 20,000 hives, and that it is now estimated that up to 60% of their stock has been eradicated, something needs to be done urgently if we are to protect the industry.

Luckily for the Welsh beekeepers, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has expressed its commitment to helping to save endangered bees. Indeed, WAG annualy contributes £280, 825 to the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) and the National Bee Unit (NBU), which funds eight Seasonal Bee Inspectors during the summer and one Regional Bee Inspector full time, to control bee disease in Wales and to improve beekeeping education and husbandry practices. Some of this cost is reclaimed from the EU under the Honey Programme.

There is one way all of us can help the plight of the poor bee though, and that's by not killing them unnecessarily. Indeed, Tom Pegg from the Pembrokeshire Bee Keepers Association was quoted in the Daily Post recently, urging people to try and recognise the difference between the honey bee and a wasp before killing them dead. So, my message to you - its fine to kill wasps, but if you like honey and want to see the production of it continue in Wales, be mindful of swatting a bee with your newspaper!

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