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Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government if the outcome of studies into sudden bee colony collapse identifies infection, contagion or invasion as its cause, whether they will support research into the protection of bees. [HL708]

The Food and Environment Research Agency's National Bee Unit (NBU) has been investigating the causes of colony losses in England and Wales over the past two years. The results have shown that the most important risk factor in the mortality or weakening of colonies is deformed wing virus, a virus transmitted by the parasitic varroa mite, clearly indicating failed or unsuccessful treatments of mite infestations. The key results from the investigations into abnormal colony losses will be published on the NBU's website in the near future.

Defra recognises that in addition to colony losses, there are a number of factors that influence bee health and therefore has allocated additional funding of £4,000,000 to investigate these issues. This will be used to: implement the first stage of the Healthy Bees plan, which is aimed at protecting and improving bee health over the next 10 years; fund three bee health research projects in 2009-10; and provide a contribution to the insect pollinator initiative on pollinator decline under which, with other funding partners, up to £10,000,000 will be available over the next five years.