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Concern over local bees decline
Bees in a hive
Some areas have seen bee numbers halve.

There are concerns that new beekeepers will import parasitic mites to the area, by buying bees over the internet.

There has been a worldwide decline in the honey bee population, which is thought to be connected with the Varroa mite. These microscopic parasites pass on fatal diseases to bees.

The collapse of bee colonies is causing concern around the globe.

A recent report to the Northern Ireland Assembly said that some of the area's bee populations had declined by over 50%.

The dwindling number of bees has an impact beyond the supply of honey. Bees are a key pollinator for many food plants, as local beekeeper Chris Coulson explained:

"Bees do account for many, many millions of pounds worth of agricultural production. And so if we lose bees then that goes down. Our diet will be less varied, on the figure that is often quoted that one out of every three mouthfuls of food that we have is due to a bee pollinating our crops."

Gerald Baker is from the Beverley branch of the Beekeepers Association. He said that the problem may, ironically, be caused by public sympathy for the plight of the Honey Bee.

Many people hearing of their decline are setting themselves up as beekeepers. However, this well-meaning action may make the problem worse.

Mr Baker said that training is the key: "Becoming a beekeeper is not a five-minute job. It's not just a case of buying bees on the internet. What we'd like people to do, if they are thinking of becoming a beekeeper, is to undertake a course."

The Beverley Beekeepers Association is promoting a series of events to encourage local people to cultivate "bee friendly" plants in their gardens and allotments in an attempt to arrest the decline of Honey and Bumble bees.

Panic in the beehive
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26 Jul 06 |  Science & Environment



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