Manx Bees To Save Dying British Colonies

Queen bees from the Isle of Man are to be posted to Britain in an effort to bolster dwindling hive populations. The Manx Government’s bee inspector will send 12 healthy queens to Britain in ventilated envelopes in a test project to find out if they can repopulate and cure hives infected by disease.

The bee population on Britain’s mainland has declined rapidly in recent years due to disease and harsh weather conditions. But colonies on the island are healthy and thriving thanks to a ban on importing foreign bees since 1987, which has prevented the spread of disease.

The healthy queens will be sent to beekeepers in Birmingham and Stockport, whose hives have been hit by viruses, in matchbox-sized cages.Bee inspector Harry Owens told the BBC: “The keeper will take out and kill the existing queen and put the cage, which contains a bit of icing sugar, in the hive.

“The diseased worker bees will eat through the icing to release the queen, by which time they will have accepted her as their own.”The Isle of Man’s 120 beekeepers could be set to profit from the demand for queens, with bees contributing £200 million to the British economy annually.

Last year more than 10,000 queens were imported to Britain from all over the world.


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