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Bees: Diseases

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has undertaken to investigate the phenomena of Colony collapse disorder; and whether he intends to make more funds available for research into honey bees. (162134)

DEFRA is aware of the press reports about the serious situation in the USA in respect of cases of abnormally high levels of colony loss described as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Scientists and inspectors at the National Bee Unit (NBU) are monitoring the situation and are in contact with experts in the USA and Europe to learn about developments.

However, we do not have evidence to suggest that there is something similar happening in the UK. The very limited number of cases of high losses which have occurred this season, for which there is no ready explanation, are being investigated in depth by the NBU and bee inspectors. The causes of significant colony losses are being considered as part of the Central Science Laboratory and the NBU’s horizon scanning work. Initial results indicate high levels of virus in samples taken from dead or dying colonies.

DEFRA’s annual expenditure on bee health research has averaged around £200,000 since 2001. However, there is an ongoing review of expenditure on all DEFRA programmes, including bee health, and future funding will need to be considered alongside the full range of priorities facing the Department.