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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 08:00 GMT
Beekeepers warn of honey shortage
A bee on a flower
Beekeepers say last year's poor summer affected the honey harvest
Honey lovers are being warned to expect a shortage of the sweet treat because last summer's poor weather stopped bees from foraging for nectar.

Beekeepers in Wales are reporting a dip in honey production following the cold, wet weather.

A member of the Welsh Beekeepers' Association (WBA) said 2007 was one of the worst harvests he could remember.

Last year's wet summer also left many vegetable growers in the UK with diseased crops.

Speaking about the expected shortage, John Tayler, secretary of the WBA, said worker bees who foraged for nectar disliked inclement weather.

He blamed a lack of sunshine last summer, when the majority of honey is produced, for the failure of plants to produce enough nectar for the bees.

A beekeeper
A colony of bees can have 40,000 workers
A bee will visit from 100 to 1,000 flowers each outing from the hive
It can take 50,000 bee flights to collect a pound of honey
Bees also produce wax for candles and Royal Jelly

Mr Tayler said there was a shortage right across Wales.

"Generally across Wales it was a poor honey harvest last year for the vast majority of beekeepers," said Mr Tayler, who lives near Llandovery in Carmarthenshire.

He added that he had 16 hives which, in a good year, normally produced up to 600lbs (272kgs) of honey, but last year that plummeted to just 40lbs (18.1kgs).

"There's bound to be a shortage of what I call gourmet honey (privately produced) in the shops," he explained.

"Last summer's bad weather has certainly had an affect on honey production. Worker bees don't forage in the rain or cold weather."

Ceredigion beekeeper Phil Regan, from Taliesin, near Aberystwyth, said his honey production had more than halved due to a combination of the weather and the Varroa parasitic mite which can kill bees.

"It's one of the worst years of production I can ever remember, although the last few years have not been good," said Mr Regan, who has been a beekeeper for more than 30 years.

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