THE PLIGHT OF THE HONEYBEE
The plight of the honeybee in Britain has been well documented in the press. Bees are in crisis. They are dying and no one knows why – it may be a virus or a mite – but it is wiping out entire colonies of honeybees across the country. If there are no honeybees, there will be precious little pollination; without pollination, the fruit and seed harvests may fail.
Pollination is a fundamental link in the agricultural chain and an elementary part of farming in Britain.
||While the work honeybees do to provide food for Britain’s wildlife is impossible to value, their work for the agricultural economy is easier to quantify: Honeybees contribute a minimum of £200 million to farming every year.|
|Honeybees are amongst the hardest grafting farm-workers in Britain, yet thanks largely to beekeepers, honeybees’ labour costs us next to nothing. Their demise, however, could cost us all dearly. This is a problem that New Holland, as a major UK manufacturer of agricultural machinery and a key player in the British farming community, is taking very seriously.
||The number of honeybees in this country has fallen drastically. In the winter of 2007/2008 the number of bee hives or colonies plunged by a third. Last winter the UK lost another fifth of its honey bees. The loss of honeybees means pollination activity has dropped significantly too. |
The figures are calamitous and indicate an unacceptable level of disease threats – threats that, as yet, are poorly understood. The British Beekeepers’ Association says that at least £8 million pounds over the next five years is needed to fund proper research and find out what is killing the honeybee and to offer solutions.
|The Government and other organisations have reacted to the call, but the money they’ve allocated has been spread thinly. More funds are needed to focus specifically on the country’s key economic pollinator – the honeybee.
Work must be done urgently to protect our honeybee population to avoid failed harvests, rising prices, food shortages and another UK farming crisis.