back to article Brit apiarists demand £8m to save honeybees

British apiarists are demanding the government stump £8m for a research project aimed at saving the nation's honeybees from extinction - something they say will happen within 10 years if cash is not found to investigate "new treatments and drugs" for ailing populations. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeeping …

COMMENTS

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  1. Danny
    Thumb Down

    Priorites all wrong?

    So we can bail out the failing Northern Rock with shedloads of our money, but we can't find funding for something that IS actually important like protecting the food supply

  2. pauls
    Happy

    Politician in a bap anyone?

    Well said Danny. Our current Government is wasting money hand over fist and they can not find a measly 8 million to research a potentially world threatening issue! I suppose when the world food supply runs short we could always BBQ the politicians.

  3. Joe K

    priorities

    Ah, but bees don't have shareholders.

    If they did, they'd be sorted by now.

  4. John

    Unbelievable

    For this reason alone this government needs to be kicked out of office.

    This should be the leading story on the news.

  5. David Rollinson
    Coat

    Now if BAE wanted £80m...

    to develop a proof-of-concept cyber-bee to do the same job, they'd probably get the money.

    Mine's the one with the gauze hoodie...

  6. Matthew Hepburn

    Ministers IQ

    Going off the average cabinet ministers IQ these days (unhackable DB's etc) its good to see that £700 million + can be spent on checking that we might be who we say we are on a bit of plastic.... but we'll have to find some other way of producing food....... good 1 NuLabour, this is 21st Century priorities!!

  7. James

    Well said Danny...

    ... but then again loss of Bees doesn't involve lots of people queuing outside banks making the government look bad...

    No doubt when our food supply is reduced to 10% of it's current capacity, our wildlife is dying and people are starving in the streets then the Morons Political will start to take notice.

    Perhaps this would be a good area for the Gates Foundation to look at.?

  8. Gregory Orton
    Pirate

    The governement should be the first go cold and hungry....

    .... when the sword of damocles finally drops and we past the tipping point of no return.

    can't they see that is essential for our future survival, not our future wealth. yet they continue to throw money at the gaping vortex that is the nhs.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    That amounts to 14p per person in the UK

    So they are asking for the equivalent of 14p for each person in the UK (pop ~60,776,238) to fund a research that could help fight CCD and allow the UK to keep feeding that population? And the politicians are saying no?

    This is messed up. Hell, if someone finds a solution to CCD, it'll propably be worth 80m£ to the US!

  10. Duncan
    Joke

    Que Sera, Sera

    Whatever Will Bee, Will Bee.... the way Noob Labour runs our country you know!

  11. Liam Johnson

    @Politician in a bap anyone

    >>when the world food supply runs short we could always BBQ the politicians.

    Don't imagine they will taste very good, the're full of sh*t.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Conspiracy Theory

    First they hand back the farming subsidy and now they won't pay a measly £8 million to prevent the extinction of the honeybee in Britain?

    Perhaps when the crops don't grow and the farmers all go out of business they will be able to buy up the land dirt cheap and build millions of new homes on them, making a few thousand percent profit in the process.

  13. Stefan
    Coat

    So whats the problem here?

    Surely when our Goverment fails to save the bees, we can just get a load of our European Friends (i am one) to come over to hand pollinate every plant in the country.

    Lets face it.... it probably beats harvesting lettuces and will probably cost a shedload less.

    That'll take the sting out of the problem.

    Mine's the Yellow and Black stripy costume accented with a bit of Spanish lingo a la The Simpsons.

  14. Danny Silver badge

    Organic bee hives survive

    I'm not the same Danny but I fully agree that this is vital research. There are reports however that organic bee colonies are not dying off. One organic bee keeper explains this in terms of the size of the cells in commercial hives. Commercial hives have cells that are 10% bigger than feral hives, to produce bees that are 50% bigger. These bigger bees spend more time 'capped off' by wax as larvae, which is when they are vunerable to mites.

    http://www.gnn.tv/articles/3044/Colony_Collapse_and_Honeycomb_Size

  15. Mark Whitehouse

    Critical

    As people of said this is a critical issue. Much more important in the immediate future than global warming.

    I keep bees myself and know from talking to other beekeepers that the losses this winter are far far more than have been experienced in the past.

    Message to the gioverment is stop buying bottled water and give us the cash!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Danny

    That's an interesting theory, but the point is that no-one knows for sure what the cause is without the research being done, hence the need for the money.

  17. Simon Neill

    Strange Government....

    Lets list some of the follies the UK government has spent on lately.

    * Bailing out Nothern Rock

    * Invading Iraq (billions!)

    * ID Cards

    * I know this one is old, but it still gets me - Building the worlds largest tent in London for the millenium.

    Now you say we can't spare £8M (pocket change surely) to save bees?

    Hand me my coat and I will buzz off.....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ask for more money and solve future problems

    I think they should expand the scope and ask for more money, in particular to diversify the bee population, it seems the same problem keeps happening with various farming and mass production techniques, a strain of tree/fruit/insect is identified as being better suited to meet requirements. That strain of animal/vegetable is then bred continually and the characteristics of the requirement are extrapolated as far as possible to improve yields etc. said strain of animal/vegetable is then annihilated by disease and a crisis ensues.

    Why don't we learn from that and investigate various alternative avenues rather than sticking with a single suitable strain?

    Ask for more money.

  19. Chris
    Coat

    A man in a Brown coat writes.....

    Our Government has long seen the oncoming Bee apocalypse and whole heartedly supports it. The decimation of the Bee population is a long term NuLabour target which will see the reduction of food levels to just 10% of todays levels. This is of course is in line with our stated goals of reducing obesity within the population and thus further enabeling the delivery of high quality NHS services.

    Mines the dithering brown one...

  20. Fruitloop
    Pirate

    Unbefuckingleivable!

    Those data hungry tossers would like to create a database of kids exam results which they estimate will cost us £45 million, and will be mostly worthless (although they could accidentally pass copies of said database to recruitment and marketing agencies in exchange for said agencies to accidentally leave suitcases of money behind) and they cant give £8 million of our own tax money for critical research like this?

    Please, PLEASE let there be life on another planet thats more intelligent than ours. Someone get the bloody flare gun out and start signalling E.T! I think only they can save us now.

  21. Ishkandar
    Boffin

    Answers to questions posed

    1) Bees do *NOT* vote, even in the North of England, so they don't get subsidised like Northern Rock !!

    2) The government doesn't have enough knowledge of science in its collective mind to boil water in a kettle.

    3) Bzzz-bzzz do *NOT* make good sound bytes !!

    4) There is no BLA (Bees Liberation Army) to threaten the government with dire consequences if conducive actions are not taken !!

    Solution to this problem - send each and every member of this government a box full of angry bees that will explode out of the box on opening and sting them where it hurts most. I'm sure some positive action will be taken !!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Value

    I think its funny how truly complex nature is and what a very narrow perspective we have. Set aside the hundreds of millions that the bees contribute, and ignore the billions that might be needed to find a scientific solution to replacing them, should they snuff it for good.

    Consider for a minute the millions of minor, and possibly major, ways that bees contribute to the natural systems of the world. Food chains broken or depleted, biochemical processes terminated or truncated. Sure, it could be no big deal. The geneticists or the engineers may well be able to fill the gaps with a nano-thing or hybrid honey-moth or there may well be no gap to fill. Maybe the bee is the gall bladder of the natural world. A moderately useful attachment but, at the end of the day and under the cold light of functional analysis, a generally unnecessary bit of complexity we could live without.

    Perhaps, though, the judicious application of a few million dollars, greasing the wheels of science pre-calamity as it were, will make it all moot.. Schroedingers cat may be alive, or it may be dead, but it was definitely a handy mouser before some idiot shoved it into that damned box.

    On a separate note, every time I see NuLabor, I think of The Nullarbor - a not insignificant plain that encapulates a large chunk of the "not terribly much" that separates eastern and western Australia. W'pedia tells us that of the Nullarbor Edward John Eyre once said "[it is] a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams".

    Perhaps UK Labor could work that onto a poster or something?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in 10 years time....

    ...anyone know where we can buy Soylent Green?

  24. Stuart Wells
    Alien

    It is simple really..

    The government seem to be well aware that without bees and other pollenators food chains wood collapse and life would become very difficult. Now if people start dieing off then people will be too busy to write those pesky Freedom of Information letters that keep highlighting a) their incompetance and b) corruption.

    So by doing nothing and spending no money there will be No bees and no worries. This is a paradigm shift in government thinking.

    The alien cos only an Independance Day scale invasion can save us now.

  25. Karl Lattimer

    Monsanto?

    So, nobody is going to blame the pesticides on monsanto now?

    Good, I must have really rammed home the point that genetic engineering of crops reduces the need for pesticides...

    My work here is done...

  26. Luther Blissett

    Hug-a-hippy time

    Rather the logic of the Nu Insect Overlards is: no money, so no bees, so no food, so no people, so no worries.

    Ergo, sally forth, hug a hippy, sponsor an organic beehive.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    "Brit apiarists demand £8m to save honeybees"

    I can imagine them at work now...

    "Afternoon 'guv... Nice bee you've got there. Shame if it was to burn down...."

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: Organic bee hives survive

    It's worth pointing out that commercial pollenation operations use the same species of bee, whether organic or not.

    This is, by definition, a monoculture. Anyfulekno these are Very Bad Things. Whether bees, beef, or soybeans, One naughty little parasite, and *poof*, there goes your food supply.

    The answer isn't getting the pools up. It's getting creating stable food supplies (and future: biofuel supplies) that don't depend on a single species. Time someone actually *listened* to what Attenborough burbles on about when the cute fuzzies walk by on the tee vee.

  29. ian

    Caused by Global Warming?

    If it can be blamed on Anthropogenic Global Warming, we can wash our hands of it as we are not at fault, and begin to prepare for a severely calorie-restricted diet!

    <pedant>

    In america, the honeybee was introduced by the English colonists. The Indians called it the "white man's fly", and its appearance announced the Indian's demise. Prior to the advent of the European honeybee in america, pollination was done by native bees that specialized in a few plants.

    </pedant>

  30. Peter Revell
    Happy

    Hysteria over honeybees

    I agree that £8m is peanuts for worthwhile research which our innumerate, arty farty science blind Morons Political would rather spend on some junket which polishes their egos.

    However, the honeybee IS NOT the most important pollinator of crops in Britain or anywhere else.

    That role is filled by SOLITARY BEES which are vastly more effective and which fly at lower temperatures and in fouler weather than honeybees would dare.

    In this country we have totally ignored their role but in North America there is a huge industry geared to breeding them and hiring them out to crop farmers and orchardists.

    Of course the honeybee produces beeswax and honey which we highly value but lets keep their pollination value in perspective.

    In Britain the the Red Mason Bee, (Osmia rufa) and Bumble Bees are far more efficient at pollination than Honeybees despite the the fact that they are fewer in number.

  31. Larry Adams
    Coat

    @ Ishkandar

    " Solution to this problem - send each and every member of this government a box full of angry bees that will explode out of the box on opening and sting them where it hurts most. I'm sure some positive action will be taken !! "

    Maybe they should bring in boxes of Africanized Killer Bees from the American Southwest... Your normal bee stings, then loses its stinger and dies... the AKB's can sting repeatedly, and swarms of them have been known to kill people. The breed developed wthen some bees from Africa being studies in South America got into the wild and began moving north with every spring... In the last few years, they've crossed the border from Mexico and are spread from Texas to Arizona, and maybe Southern California... Oh, and they easily angered, and when angered keep right on coming back to sting again...

    My coat please, the beekkeeper's outfit, with hat and gloves...

    Late Night Larry

  32. Mark Fisher
    Coat

    14p ...or 30 quid

    So there are 250,000 hives in the country?

    Instead of everyone in the UK supplying 14p, what if the apiarists coughed up 30 quid per hive? - that would just about cover it. Surely the honey produced by one hive per season pays far more than that?

    Rural folk seem to go begging for handouts every time something goes wrong, where most other industries (OK, banking aside) would have to solve the problem themselves.

    (dons flame-proof jacket)

  33. Paul McConkey
    Stop

    How much did you last pay for a jar of honey?

    In a really good year, a commercial beekeeper may be able to harvest 50 to 100 lbs of honey from a single colony. If you look at the price of honey in your local supermarket you'll see that it's around the £1.50 to £2.00 a lb mark.

    You may be able to see that there is very little financial incentive for keeping bees commercially and a £30 per colony research tax would probably kill off most of the industry.

    One of the best things to happen to beekeeping in recent times was the Chinese using unacceptably high levels of drugs in their honey production, which led to the import of Chinese honey being banned by the EU. This Chinese honey was being sold at below the production cost of British honey.

    I suppose that I could afford £30 for each of my two colonies, but should it really be up to hobbyists to try and prevent the complete loss of the of the honeybee in Britain?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Peter Revell

    Solitary bees and bumblebees are indded much more efficient at pollination than a honeybee - however, the honeybee outnumbers these species by several orders of magnitude.

    A strong honeybee colony at the height of the season can contain in excess of 50,000 individual honeybees - bumblebee nests contain a few hundred individuals, and solitary bees live alone. The honeybee may not be an efficient pollinator on it's own, but there is much strength in numbers.

    @ Mark Fisher

    The vast majority of Apiarists in the UK are hobbyists - the number of people who make their living from apiculture is no more than a couple of hundred - and why should it fall to the hobbyist to save a species from extinction when the consequences of such an extinction would affect everybody?

  35. Darkside
    Dead Vulture

    No change here then...

    There are already no honeybees where I live.

    Wild honeybees have been wiped out by Varroa mites, so the only ones left are hive bees whose keepers protect them. There are no beekeepers within three miles of my garden.

    I see quite a few Bombus and every year the beautiful Adrena armata make a mess of my lawn, but overall pollination is very poor.

    I'd keep bees myself but I have back trouble, can't lift the weights.

    Who can honestly say they'd rather see their taxes spent on despoiling Afghanistan than on conserving harmless useful bees?

    The vulture, because it doesn't look very healthy either!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Darkside

    Might be worth you doing some research into the Top Bar Hive. It's not common in the UK but it's workable, and doesn't require you to lift heavy weights.

  37. b shubin
    Pirate

    Panopticon uber alles

    so now you know what the priorities really are, for Western governments:

    [1] an omniscient and omnipotent police state (a la "V for Vendetta").

    [2] fat, easy handouts for friends, relatives and corporate patrons.

    ...oh, sorry, that's all of it, food doesn't make the list.

    King George is still working it out in the US, but the UK seems to be further along in some ways. kudos, vote Labor (why do they call them that, still?), because better the devil you know, even when it really is a devil.

    perhaps intelligence is not a survival trait after all. i can see the problem clearly, but the people in charge (US and UK both) are corrupt beyond redemption and dumb as a post, so my intelligence makes no difference.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Karl

    You haven't rammed anything home, it's just El Reg's moderation standards are to reject carefully reasoned pro-environmental posts, while printing all and any anti-environmentalist rants and abuse verbatim. As always, the anti argument involves sticking your fingers in your ears, singing "la-la-la-la-laa I can't hear you", and then claiming that this proves nobody disagrees with you!

    PS.: Your point is nonsense because the GM crops you're referring to (Monsanto's "Roundup-ready") don't in any way reduce the need for pesticides. They reduce the need for *herbicides*. You clearly don't actually know the first thing about what you're talking about and are merely looking to jump on a bandwagon and bang the drum for your favourite preconceived prejudices ("Hippies say X - I don't like hippies - Therefore X must not be true because I don't like the people who say it" is a textbook example of the ad-hominem fallacy).

  39. Jon Tocker

    Fecking Marvelous!

    So we can add food shortages due to crop failure to the "Top Ten Things To Look Forward To In 2020" list.

    The apiarists are attacking the problem incorrectly, wittering on about food crops as if TPTB actually give a shit about the population.

    If they want to get results, they just need to tell the fucktards in the govt that you can't grow BIOFUEL crops without bees to pollinate them and they'll have a 25-million-quid research grant by lunchtime.

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