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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Beekeepers battle killer mite
Beekeepers
Beekeepers fear for their hives

A mite which has destroyed three-quarters of the UK's honeybee population has reached the north of Scotland.

Native honeybees in the Highlands are now facing the threat of destruction.

It puts at risk the 30 active beekeepers in the area, who are fighting to save their colonies from the varroa destructor mite.

A drive is now under way to educate beekeepers about how to control colonies infested with the mite.

The bug first arrived on the south coast of England from Europe 10 years ago.

It can cause death and deformity among the insects until only ageing and unproductive bees are left and entire colonies collapse.

"The only way honeybees will survive in the Highlands is if beekeepers are properly trained to manage their colonies
Robert Wylie
Beekeepers' association

Robert Wylie of the Easter Ross Beekeepers' Association said that there was no true cure against the bug.

Mr Wylie said the varroa had also forced disillusioned beekeepers to abandon their profession and hobby.

The association's campaign involves a recruitment programme and moves to educate beekeepers on how to manage the insect.

Mr Wylie said: "The only way honeybees will survive in the Highlands is if beekeepers are properly trained to manage their colonies.

"There is no magic answers to deal with varroa mites, but we have seen some positive results from the continent where they have been coping with this for a long time now."

As part of the campaign, the association has opened a new apiary in the grounds of Rosehill reservoir in Ross-shire.

Six hives with at least 10,000 bees in each are being set up with the aid of Scottish Water and 3,000 of Lottery funding.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Reporting Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"There's no way of stopping them."



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