The combined forces of the Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Assembly today announced the first step in formulating a strategy to protect the UK's honeybees - a consultation (pdf) which "sets out a plan for the future direction of work aimed at sustaining the health of honeybees and …
the poor response I got from Defra...
Thank you for your email of 25 March regarding colony collapse disease. I have been asked to reply.
In the UK, scientists and inspectors at the National Bee Unit (NBU) are monitoring the situation, and are in contact with experts in the USA and in Europe to learn the latest results of research into abnormal colony mortality. The NBU has taken samples for further analysis from the few apiaries in England and Wales found this spring with unusually high colony loss for which there is no readily identifiable cause. This work will help the NBU ascertain whether there is a common cause for such losses.
The DEFRA budget for bee health research and development in 2006-07 was #200,000, which is comparable to previous years, and covers work on all pests and diseases of bees. If findings in the US or elsewhere identify a research need in the UK, the necessary resources would be found as part of our contingency response to emerging new threats.
Colony loss is known in Europe, but there is currently no reason to link high colony losses in the USA to the situation in Europe. Recent cases in Spain and Portugal seem likely to have been caused by Nosema ceranae, a spore-forming protozoan that invades the digestive tracts of bees, as well as the impact of varroa.
If a common cause for high colony loss in the USA is identified and it is pest or disease-related, it is unlikely to be imported here, as long as the rules restricting imports from third countries are respected. It is illegal to import bees from the mainland of the USA.
So...basically we are to wait for US-based research to help us IF they feel like sharing and IF it can be applied to the UK? This article (above) seems to contradict what they sent me....
Such wonderful speed of action.
I think they've got all the 20th Century threats in their list.
Defra takes over ...
"All your bees are belong to us!"
The power of RTD
Vanishing bees get mentioned on Doctor Who on a Saturday, and a government taskforce (presumably complete with helicopters, thrilling logo and fully-reclinable secretaries) is on the case by Tuesday.
Now that's impressive!
If he puts a line about global warming into the next episode, we should have that licked by next Thursday.
A decision has been made
Well, Defra have made a statement on the situation, and presumably can now sit back and relax until the beekeeping industry is in total meltdown, when they can then issue another statement that there is little that can be done to alleviate the situation, given the time scale and the shortage of funding.
Obviously the solution to such hive terrorism is the introduction of mandatory ID cards for the Bees, thus assuring their safety and happiness in a dangerous world.
@ T Bell
"So...basically we are to wait for US-based research to help us IF they feel like sharing and IF it can be applied to the UK? This article (above) seems to contradict what they sent me...."
I don't see it that way, it seems more a case that CCD hasn't effected us in Europe so it seems pointless researching it when we already have more pressing problems effecting bees here.
I have to agree to be honest, if we've already got problems effecting our bees isn't it a little pointless wasting money on what is currently a US problem when that money could better go towards solving the problems that DO effect our bees right now?
I doubt very much the US would refuse to share their research should it spread over here because equally we'll be likely to share research with them about problems that may spread from here.
Also bear in mind it's not terribly easy for us to research CCD in Europe if we don't actually have CCD in Europe! We'd only end up sending researchers to the US duplicating the work the US is doing already.
"We'd only end up sending researchers to the US duplicating the work the US is doing already."
Please send 'em, the ones we have don't seem to be making much progress and could use the help :-(
I seem to remember...
... reading somewhere that the *honey* bee is not the major pollinator in the UK.