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Bees

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the number of queen bees which have been imported in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (197462)

[holding answer 1 April 2008]: Importers of queen bees from third countries are required to notify DEFRA about the intended import and then must send the cages and accompanying worker bees to the National Bee Unit for analysis. In the last three calendar years DEFRA was notified of the following imports of queens:

Number

2005

2,385

2006

2,435

2007

3,097

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the UK bee population (a) in each year since 1997 and (b) in each of the next 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (197595)

On the basis of the number of colonies estimated by ADAS in their 2001 survey, there are around 273,000 managed honey bee colonies in the UK. In population terms, there are approximately 5 billion honey bees in winter (20,000 per colony), rising to some 16 billion in the summer (60,000 per colony). Numbers of colonies may have declined in recent years. The numbers in each of the next 10 years will depend on the number of beekeepers and their stockmanship and colony husbandry skills, including effective pest and disease management. No estimate has been made of the numbers of bumble bees or solitary bees etc.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has received a research plan from Rothamstead and Warwick Horticulture Research International on bee health; and if he will make a statement. (197672)

DEFRA has not received any such research plan. Short descriptions of two research projects proposed by the two organisations were included in a “Beekeeping Research” paper produced by the British Beekeepers' Association.