01.10.2012 0 Comments

Bee pollination drops – bad news for local businesses

Bee pollination drops – bad news for local businesses

For some time honey production has been under threat, and this presents many unforeseen problems that affect us all.

The amount of honey that bees are able to make, eat, and store is diminishing, largely due to limited sunny spells and poor conditions for bees to fly in. The upshot is bee keepers reporting 30% of their normal yields. This will not just impact those wishing to have their honey on toast at the breakfast table; estimates are that one in three food items on our plates is impacted by the pollination of bees.

LEADER takes a special interest in the bee population and has supported a number of local apiaries. They know that the well being of the honey bee can and will impact on hundreds of businesses and products.

Bee keeping is seen as a rather quaint rural business carried out by a few eccentrics with no sense of pain, but a crisis in bee productivity impacts us all. The number of apples produced this year is down 15% on previous years due to a mix of an early frost, strong winds and a lack of bees. Harvest yields are down 20% in most areas; the difference between profit and loss for many arable farms. Entire hives have died out through a lack of food and the inability of bees to fly in bad weather and collect pollen, meaning the harvest next year will not be pollinated and crop numbers will be down again.

This reminds us that farming is a knife edge business and is still dependant on the weather, and that despite all modern farming technologies, the countryside is a finely balanced and integrated system.

It is not just the bees that are under threat, the beekeeping population is too, as Sue Bird, owner of Birds and Bees Honey explains: “An article in the bee farmers newsletter recently pointed out that in about 10 years there will be very few bee farmers as the current ones will be in their 80s or will have passed away. It is scary to think that a lot of this country’s pollination workforce is looked after by people who keep bees as a hobby.”

For more information on LEADER contact Nick Phillips on 01494 568969, email nick.phillips@leader-programme.org.uk, or visit www.leader-programme.org.uk.