Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Saturday, 4 October 2008 10:40 UK

Apple festival hit by bee crisis

apples
Apple production is down by a quarter

Organisers of an apple festival say a 50% decline in the number of honey bees in a colony during winter has led to a reduced harvest.

It means this weekend's 18th Apple Festival at Erddig Hall, near Wrexham, is being put on with 25% less stock.

Apple production across the UK is suffering amid a global bee crisis.

John Parry, beekeeper at Erddig, said: "The situation facing bees is very serious, but with good husbandry we shall pull through."

He said good maintenance was key: "At Erddig I only use natural ingredients to ensuring the colony is healthy.

"This includes medication using natural products like thyme and rhubarb leaves."

Over the winter, half of the colony at Erddig was was lost due to the climate.

It meant the the bees swarmed later in the spring, producing an apple harvest that was a quarter smaller than usual.

Honey production has also been affected.

The bee colony has now recovered to the size it was in 2007.

Fellow beekeeper Pat Parry said: "Bees are so important for pollination - they provide so much for us."

Honey
The declining bee population has also hit honey production

In many parts of the world bees have been under pressure from several sources.

The climate has been a problem, as has the Varroa mite, which has caused 90% of American bee colonies to be struck down.

The bee hives at Erddig were recently checked by government inspectors and given a clean bill of health.


SEE ALSO
Decline of the bee
20 Aug 08 |  Newsnight

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