Results reveal high crop for honey bees in South East

Beekeepers in the South East of England produced the second highest amount of honey in the country, a new survey revealed today.

British Beekeepers Association’s annual Honey Survey reported an average yield of 36 lbs per colony in the region this year- 4lbs ahead of the national average of 32lbs.

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Beekeepers in the East of England came out on top with the highest production of honey in the country at 37lbs per colony. The survey highlights a 28 per cent increase on the 29lbs per hive reported by East of England beekeepers in 2013.

Conducted amongst 2,000 beekeepers across the country, the survey explores the current year’s honey yield and the factors affecting honey bee colonies and honey production.

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Here are the results for the South East region:

  • 2011: 29.3 lbs per hive
  • 2012: 7.3 lbs per hive
  • 2013: 27.1 llbs per hive
  • 2014: 35.9 lbs per hive
  • BBKA Director of Public Affairs, Tim Lovett, commented on the increased amount of honey this year.

    While this increase is great news for beekeepers and honey bees, the historic average is 40lbs plus per hive so there is still some way to go if we are to return to our most productive.

    Beekeeping has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years and it is crucial that we do not lose the momentum. Honey bees are essential pollinators and vital contributors to food production

    – MR LOVETT

    “These very precious creatures still need all the help we can give,” he added.

Global warming concern for UK bees

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Climate change threatens the survival of the UK’s honey bee population, new academic research has claimed.

An exotic parasite which targets the insects is set to flourish in northern Europe if the Earth continues to warm, scientists at Queen’s University, Belfast found.

The study assessed the future threat posed by the gut parasite Nosema ceranae, which originates in Asia but can now be found worldwide.

New evidence of the parasite’s superior competitive ability and the link between its population size and climate change has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Co-author of the study and adjunct reader at Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, Professor Robert Paxton said: “This emerging parasite is more susceptible to cold than its original close relative, possibly reflecting its presumed origin in east Asia.

“In the face of rising global temperatures, our findings suggest that it will increase in prevalence and potentially lead to increased honey bee colony losses in Britain.”

Co-researcher Myrsini Natsopoulou, from the Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, said: “Our results reveal not only that the exotic parasite is a better competitor than its original close relative, but that its widespread distribution and patterns of prevalence in nature depend on climatic conditions too”.

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This study was funded by the Insect Pollinators Initiative, a joint venture of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust, managed under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership.

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New Scheme Will Pay Farmers to Protect Bees

National Pollinator Strategy Adds Incentives, But No Regulatory Changes

The declining population of bees and other pollinators will be addressed by a ten-year government initiative, which may affect the way farmers manage their land.

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The recently-revealed National Pollinator Strategy includes £900m of countryside stewardship schemes to incentivise wildflower planting, pollinator-friendly crops and other conservation measures.

The use of certain pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, which were recently restricted for two years by European legislation, is also mentioned in the document. However, the strategy contains no new regulations regarding pesticides, beyond recommending that they are used “responsibly and sustainably”.

Some campaigners have warned that greater regulation is needed to safeguard the health of the honeybee population.

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Matt Shardlow, chief executive of the conservation charity Buglife, said the strategy is “a starting point” but urged for more efforts to ensure any pesticides used are not harmful to bees.

“Recent history has shown that we are still authorising insecticides that kill bees and other wildlife: there must be more thorough testing so that licenced pesticides are indeed environmentally safe,” he added.

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Save pollinators with attractive subsidies and more bee-friendly trees

If Defra was really serious about saving pollinators, it would be greening its Smith Square roof for abundant forage.

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The government’s pollinator strategy aims to encourage everyone to do their bit to help bees and other pollinators. Urging us to cut the grass less will allow clovers and dandelions (both excellent bee food) to flourish, and leaving piles of leaves and logs could provide nesting sites for hibernating insects.

The advice won’t prove popular with pristine gardeners, or council maintenance contractors paid per lawn mowed, but it would increase urgently-needed forage and habitat in our towns and cities, as will creating wildflower meadows on public land. Yet creating pollinator-friendly cities full of year-round nectar and pollen-rich flowers and shrubs in all available green space from roofs to window boxes and road verges means a shift in our thinking about what flowers are: no longer beautiful, fragrant objects for our pleasure but instead vital food for pollinators.

But encouraging people to help replace the 97% of wildflower-rich grasslands lost in the UK since the second world war will never be enough. In the countryside, paying farmers attractive subsidies to maintain hedgerows and strips of wildlife-friendly ground around arable fields and banning the use of pollinator-harming pesticides is the only way forward.

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In urban areas, more bee-friendly trees, such as hazels and pussy willows, whose catkins provide early pollen, should be planted in our streets, parks and on the roofs of many new developments, as a condition of planning, to create pollinator-friendly corridors.

If Defra was really serious about saving pollinators it would be greening its Smith Square roof to provide abundant forage for all pollinators, rather than sticking honeybees hives on it.

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Bee action plan expected on 4 November

Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association have issued a warning ahead of Defra’s bee action plan publication.

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Ahead of the Government’s unveiling of the Government’s action plan to reverse the decline of Britain’s bees, Friends of the Earth is warning it must contain “strong measures” to make UK farms and land use far more bee-friendly in order to be effective.

Friends of the Earth says the National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) must be considerably improved from draft versions to address the root causes of bee decline, by providing the right policy framework, support and incentives to ensure that farmers, land owners and developers are supported to reduce pesticide use, protect and create vital bee habitats to provide the food and shelter bees need across the UK.

Friends of the Earth senior nature campaigner Paul de Zylva said: “People around country are doing their bit making their gardens and allotments good for bees – the Government must now do its bit too to transform our farms, housing estates, parks and roadsides into habitat-rich, chemical-free spaces.

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“Reversing bee decline for good depends on the Government producing an effective Bee Action Plan that tackles all the threats bees face, especially from pesticides and a lack of habitat on farms and new developments.

“Britain’s hard working bees deserve a first not third-rate Bee Action Plan – it’s time the Government delivered.”

Friends of the Earth campaigners in Westminster have delivered a petition to Environment Secretary Liz Truss, which urges her not to delay the NPS further and ensure it contains “ambitious action” for bees.

The results of Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count last week found that allotments were best for bees while parks and roadsides need improving. More than 23,000 people used a smartphone app to take part in the 12-week citizen science project this summer, spotting 830,000 bees in total.
Friends of the Earth wants farmers to cut pesticide use and to have bee habitats such as ancient meadows protected and managed.

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said: “This is the first time a government wildlife strategy has recognised the benefits of organic farms to pollinators. Nonetheless, these efforts, as well as those of many gardeners across the country, are being totally undone by the mass spraying of insecticides and weed killers on farmland, along with the deadly impact of neonicotinoid seed dressings. The Soil Association will continue to campaign for neonicotinoids to be banned.”

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