Betreff: Bees - news reports
Von: Martin Weatherall
Datum: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 23:27:01 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: Margaret E White
To: Martin Weatherall
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 3:03 AM
Subject: Bees -news reports

BBC News - Rare bumblebee to be researched

Research is to be carried out to determine the link between traditional crofting methods and the survival of one of the UK's rarest bumblebees.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said the great yellow had declined dramatically over the past 50 years.

It is funding a study of populations in the Hebrides and parts of Sutherland.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust said PhD student Nicky Redpath would investigate the insect's relationship with crofting.

The trust had planned to set up a great yellow reserve in the Hebrides, but this plan has changed to one which would actively encourage crofting practices.

Flowers and fruit crops facing disaster as disease kills off bees

By Jasper Copping
Last Updated: 11:25pm BST 31/03/2007

Devastating diseases are killing off vast numbers of bees across the
country, threatening major ecological and economic problems. Honeybee
colonies have been wiped out this winter at twice the usual rate or worse in
some areas.
The losses are the result of either Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a
disease that has already decimated bee populations in the US and parts of
Europe, or a new, resistant form of Varroa destructor, a parasite that
attacks bees.
Experts fear that, because honeybees are responsible for 80 per cent of all
pollination as they collect nectar for the hive, there could be severe
ecological problems with flowers, fruit and crops failing to grow.
The pollination carried out by bees is worth  million to Britain's
farmers each year. However, the total contribution by bees to the economy,
including profits made from the sales of food, is up to illion.
In London, about 4,000 hives - two-thirds of the bee colonies in the capital
In London, about 4,000 hives - two-thirds of the bee colonies in the
capital - are estimated to have died this winter.
The normal winter mortality rate is about 15?per cent. John Chapple, the
chairman of the London Beekeepers' Association, who has lost the populations
in 30 of his 40 hives, said:"It's frightening. The mortality rate is the
highest in living memory and no one seems to know what's behind it."
In 23 of Mr Chapple's hives, no trace was left of the bees - a
characteristic commonly associated with CCD. Officers from the National Bee
Unit at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in
Sand Hutton, near York, are investigating the cause of the population slump.
They fear that, with many beekeepers yet to check their hives after the
insects' winter quiescence - a form of hibernation - the extent of the
problem may deepen. So far, almost 30?per cent of hives inspected by the
unit have been lost, twice the normal winter loss rate.
In Worcestershire and Hereford, of the 20 hives checked, only one had
survived. In West Sussex, more than 80 per cent of the colonies had been
lost. In Cambridgeshire, the figure was more than 50?per cent.
A spokesman for Defra said:"It is too early in the year to reach any
conclusions. Some individual beekeepers have experienced large losses,
others none. Any beekeeper who has concerns should make contact with the
local bee inspector."
However, a source at the unit said:"People are only just starting to check
their colonies but we are already hearing of losses. We're concerned. We
think the losses are going to be higher." The British honey production
industry provides more than a fifth of annual honey sales - up to 6,000 tons
and is worth between million and millio
n. Last year, Britons consumed more than 34 million jars of honey, compared
with 31 million the year before. A spokesman for Tesco, the supermarket
chain, said it would monitor the situation.
Beekeepers fear that cuts in Defra's funding for bee research - from
,000 in 2004 to ,000 next year - have left them vulnerable. They
plan to meet this month to discuss the new threats.
Tim Lovett, the chairman of the British Beekeepers' Association,
said:"There's been an inexorable decrease in investment in beekeeping
research. The work going on is pretty limited. All this green chat from the
Government is about recycling but there is not half enough being done for
something that actually has a serious role in the environment."
In the 1990s, the honeybee population was badly affected by Varroa
destructor. As well as almost eradicating Britain's wild swarms, many
bee-keepers were put out of business and membership of the BBKA halved from
16,000 in 1990 to 8,000 a decade later. Chemicals were eventually developed
to treat the condition, leading to a revival in the number of hives.
Norman Carreck, a bee0…2scientist, said:"For 10 years we have been rather
complacent and thought Varroa was easy to deal with. Suddenly we're finding
it isn't as easy as we thought." In the US, 50?per cent of honeybee colonies
have been destroyed by CCD, while hundreds of thousands have been wiped out
in Spain.
Bee-keepers in Poland, Greece, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal have
also reported heavy losses. Meanwhile, scientists at universities in
Southampton and Stirling who are concerned about declining numbers of wild
bumblebees - which also aid pollination - are to use dogs to search for
colonies in Scotland and Hertfordshire this year.