Bee populations devastated
MARCH 17, 2008: Britain's honeybees are being decimated by a mystery disease, and most could be wiped out in 10 years,say experts.
They say the collapse of the population would be disastrous, and could cost the economy £165 million a year.Now beekeepers are launching a campaign to persuade the Government to fund an £8 million research project to save the industry.Tim Lovett, the president of the British Beekeeping Association, said: 'Beekeeping is still reeling from the varroa mite, which carries a number of viruses and which devastated thousands of hives across the country when it reached Britain 10 years ago."Now there is a real danger that colony collapse disease, which has wiped out 80 per cent of bees in parts of the US, will appear in this country."Unless we develop effective protection, there could then be massive losses of bees across the country." There are around 250,000 honeybee hives in Britain. A recent estimate by Defra revealed that bees contribute £165 million a year to the economy through their pollination of fruit trees, field beans and other crops. In addition, sales of 5,000 tons of British honey generate a further £12 million.