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Varroa Mites

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to combat the spread of Varroa mites; and if she will make a statement. [130356]

Defra funds a range of measures to assist the beekeeping sector in England through its bee health programme, which is delivered by the National Bee Unit (NBU), part of the Central Science Laboratory. In 2003–04, the programme will cost £1.235 million Under these measures, the NBU provides a free diagnostic and inspection service to beekeepers for varroa as well as training and technical advice to help them become more self-reliant in controlling the pest through improved bee husbandry. The NBU is also carrying out routine screening throughout England for varroa mites that are resistant to authorised pyrethroid- based treatments, having first detected them in August 2001. This year Defra also expects to spend around £248,000 on research and development to support our bee health work. This includes a three-year project that extends an earlier MAFF-funded investigation by Horticulture Research International on the use of entomopathogenic fungi as a biological control of varroa.Arrangements for bee health matters in Scotland and Wales are the responsibility of the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly respectively.