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Volume 78: debated on Friday 10 May 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to take steps to ban the importation of foreign queen honey bees; and if he will make a statement.

Under the Importation of Bees Order 1980 the importation of bees is prohibited except under the authority of a licence. Licences are issues only in respect of queen bees (with attendant workers) from countries which have a high bee health status and, more particularly, are free from the parasitic mite, Varroa jacobsoni. In practice imports are restricted to those from New Zealand and the USA. At the present time there is no reason to prohibit imports from these countries although the situation is kept under review.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about the current legislation on honey bee diseases.

We have received a number of letters, including some from hon. Members, on various aspects of bee disease. In reply we have made clear the importance which I attach to maintaining a healthy bee population and have described the arrangements which we have introduced to that end. I am satisfied that our current arrangements provide fully adequate protection for the health of our bee population. However, we keep the situation under review and would modify our arrangements should this become necessary.