Beekeepers Lose One Sixth Of Hives

Beekeepers lost one in six hives last winter due to disease and cold weather, according to the latest statistics. The losses are much higher than the natural rate of up to 10 per cent and reflect growing concerns that bee numbers are falling in Britain.

However, beekeepers are optimistic that colonies are in better shape than previous years, especially after such a harsh winter. In 2008/09 one in five hives were lost over the winter and a third died out the year before.

The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) said it was good news that 80 per cent of honey bee colonies made it through the coldest winter in 31 years. The highest losses of 26 per cent were recorded in the north of England, and lowest losses of 12.8 per cent were recorded in the south west of England.

As Chelsea Flower Show kicks off this week, Martin Smith, BBKA President, said it was important to celebrate the importance of honey bees.”Winter losses between 7 to 10 per cent are acceptable. The current rate is not and neither are the vast regional differences. Yet there is still no answer to what is causing the losses. Disease, bad weather and poor nutrition due to habitat loss are the prime suspects,” he said.

“British beekeepers are having to work even harder at this time of year to replace their missing colonies to keep the stream of honey flowing and more vitally to maintain the ‘pollination army’ on which we depend for so much of our food, and the beauty of our countryside.

(source)

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