More than 14% of England’s honeybee colonies died over winter

More than 14% of England’s honeybee colonies died over winter


More than 14% of England’s honeybee colonies died over the winter, the latest research from the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has found.

The BBKA’s annual survey of beekeepers across England’s found that winter losses were highest in the west country (18%) and lowest in the north of England (11.8).

The average reported losses for 2014/15 of 14.5% were higher than 2013/14 when only 9.6% of colonies perished, but much lower than the winter of 2012/13 when a third of hives died, and below the average losses since the survey began eight years ago of 19.3%.

The BBKA says winter losses remain at an “unacceptably high levels and are still in excess of what might be considered normal losses of 5-10%”. It blames poor and variable weather, bee diseases and parasites such as the varroa mite and starvation.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

But Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at Sussex University, describes this year’s losses as very low and easily managed by beekeepers. “Honeybee colonies have the capacity to double in number every summer when they swarm, or the beekeepers splits the colony in two, so 14.5% winter losses are totally sustainable,” he says. “A good summer allowed the bees to forage and go into the winter well fed and strong.”

His own 100-strong apiary lost just two hives. “If you make sure your bees have food, a healthy queen and are treated for the varroa mite, you should be able to get winter losses down to single digits,” Ratnieks insists.

Bees are estimated to contribute £651m to the UK economy a year through their pollination services. Some 85% of the UK’s apple crop and 45% of the strawberry crop relies on wild bees and managed honeybees to grow.

More than half of British adults say they would do more to help bees to thrive, but almost two thirds don’t know what they can do, according to additional research by the BBKA. It has launched a bee-friendly guide featuring classic Winnie-the-Pooh characters to illustrate simple steps people can take such as planting a flowering tree in your garden or building bee habitats.

None of the 900 hobby beekeepers who took part in the annual losses survey cited neonicotinoid pesticides as a reason for colony deaths despite their use being temporarily banned on certain crops across Europe over fears they are linked to bees decline. The two year ban from the end of 2013 followed a recommendation from the European Food Safety Authority, which today launched a major new project to establish a framework that aims to assess the risk to honeybee colonies of various threats including agricultural chemicals, parasites and environmental changes.

Fathers day – Adopt A Hive

Fathers day – Adopt A Hive

Our busy little black and yellow friends are vital to our well-being, as they pollinate the plants that we grow for food, but, our Honey bees are in crisis. Their population is dwindling at an alarming rate, under attack from viruses, pesticides and mites. You can help start a new bee colony, by buying a year long, 1/12 share in a hive for only £29.99.

Adopt A Hive

In return you’ll receive a special shareholder certificate, some wild flower seeds to attract more bees to your garden and 1lb of yummy honey made especially for you, by your bees as a thank you. And up dates on your hives.

Adopt-a-hive makes the perfect gift for nature lovers, keen gardeners and honey lovers everywhere. As well as being a unique present you’ll be helping to pollinate the planet and ensuring the future, not only of our little busy buddies, but also all the essential fruits and vegetables we currently enjoy.

The Ancient Celts…of Druids & Bees

Druids & Bees

The Ancient Celts…of Druids & Bees:

In Scotland’s western isles, people once talked of ‘the secret knowledge of the bees,’ for these tiny creatures were thought to embody the ancient wisdom of the Druids.

So what did the Druids know? Bees have long been considered divine messengers from the gods. And until quite recently in the Highlands and Islands, people thought that, when in sleep, trance or death, the soul left the body in the form of a bee – a belief that has clear druidic origins. Druids were trained in the art of the ‘soul-flight,’ by which they could journey to the Otherworld for knowledge from the spirits. They would probably have endorsed the tenet beloved of the mystery schools of the Near East: Si sapis, sis apis! – If you would be wise, be a bee!

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

Perhaps they also carried forth the tradition of the Great Goddess, for bees, whose lives are organised entirely around a single queen, have been sacred to the Divine Feminine for thousands of years, in ancient civilizations from Babylon to Rome. Bees were revered for their ability to pollinate flowers and crops, increasing the abundance of the Earth. The cultivation of honey was regarded as a sacred charge carried out with great reverence and ritual for it was seen as a precious gift from the Mother herself.

Bees were considered so important to early Irish society that there were special bee laws designed to protect them, called the ‘bech bretha.’ A 7th century holy woman called Gobnait, who founded a women’s community in southwest Ireland, had a close relationship with bees and used their honey for healing illnesses and treating wounds. She was said to be one of three sisters who had power over fire, and is clearly a Christianised version of the triple fire-goddess, Brighid, with whom she shares the same feast-day in early February.

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