Beekeeping creating a buzz

A new government-backed project has been launched to improve beekeeping techniques amongst amateurs as native levels of the insect continue to decrease.

Ironically, the number of people taking up beekeeping as a hobby is actually soaring in Britain.

But owing to the numerous challenges posed by pests and diseases inexperienced beekeepers are losing more and more colonies over winter.

To combat this, the government has announced that 400 experts across England and Wales will be trained to teach beekeepers the skills needed to sustain large colonies.

The project - part of the government's ten-year Healthy Bees Plan - will be run in partnership by the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) and National Diploma of Beekeeping Board (NDBB), and jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Training will be delivered through local beekeeping associations, where amateurs and enthusiasts will learn in groups from the experts, alongside government bee inspectors.

Announcing the new scheme environment minister, Lord Henley, said: "Bees are essential to putting food on our table and worth £200m to Britain every year through pollinating our crops.

"This training will help the many new beekeepers keep their hives healthy and bees buzzing."

The project has been initiated after figures released by the National Bee Unit (NBU), showed that in 2008/9, 14 per cent of colonies died over winter. That level increased last winter to 16 per cent died.

Head of the NBU, Mike Brown, added: "More and more people are starting beekeeping, which is brilliant - it is a release from the pressures of modern life and helps the environment. But it should not be taken lightly, and it's best to find a mentor with practical experience as well as getting advice from us."

The scheme will run until March 2011.

Sam Plester



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