Wales honey bees decline 39 per cent
The plight of the honey bee has been highlighted by Pembrokeshire County Council.
Honey bee populations in Britain have declined at an alarming rate over the past decade with a 39% decline in Welsh bee colonies in 2009.
This week the Council's environment and overview scrutiny committee heard presentations about the situation from two leading bee experts.
John Verran, Regional Bee Inspector for Wales and John Dudman, Secretary of the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers Association told members about the drastic decline in honey bee colonies, the causes and what authorities and bee keepers were trying to do about it.
The meeting was attended by many local members of the Women's Institute, which has made the plight of the honey bee one of its national causes.
Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Peter Stock said he was very concerned to hear about the decline.
"This is a very important issue and something which I believe as a Council we should take up," he said.
"The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committeee has put this matter into its work programme and potential further scrutiny can now take place.
"This meeting is a start but I think - working with others - we should play our part in trying to ensure the success of honey bee populations in the future."
Earlier the meeting heard John Dudman explain how although bee colonies traditionally declined by around 5% to 10% a year, they had fallen by 34% in Wales 2008 and by 39% last year. Populations in England had declined by similar amounts.
He said although there was no obvious cause, one major factor was believed to be an increase in the incidence of varroa mite infestations in hives and there were also concern about the effects of pesticide spraying on crops and in gardens.
He said DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government had last year published a plan to improve the health of honey bees, while an additional £4.3m was being spent by the Government to gather more information and undertake more research into pollinating inspects.
"At a more local level we as an association are providing training courses for beginners and also setting up more local beekeeping groups," he said.
"Bee keepers need education and they need to be given information. The education and training of bee keepers is essential."