Bee Population (Reported Decline)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 16th September 2015.

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Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on discussions it has had regarding the reported decline in the bee population. (S4O-04588)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

We are working closely with the honey bee sector on a strategy that aims to achieve a sustainable and healthy population of managed honey bees. In recent years, we have seen an increase in managed stocks in Scotland.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

Recently, Marco Giannasi, who owns the Battlefield Rest, which is a local restaurant in my constituency, installed beehives on its roof, and I was presented with a petition that was put together by five-year-old Conrad House, who is a pupil at Merrylee primary school. Conrad managed to get more than 150 signatures from friends, family and neighbours for his petition, which brings attention to the importance of bees to the food chain. Will the cabinet secretary join me in welcoming that recognition by my constituents of all ages of the role that bees play? Will he accept my invitation to come to my constituency to meet Conrad and his family to discuss the petition further?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I am delighted to hear that restaurants in Battlefield are installing beehives on their roofs. Indeed, Presiding Officer, the Scottish Parliament has also installed beehives.

There is increasing awareness across Scotland and the world of the role that bees play in delivering food security. I understand that about a third of our food relies on pollinators, which is why I congratulate young Conrad House, Mr Dornan’s constituent, who has carried out good work in his community to highlight the importance of our bee populations and gather support for saving bees.

We tried to set up a meeting when Conrad House handed in the petition, but I was unavailable. I would of course be happy—indeed, delighted—to meet him if the opportunity arises. Should I be visiting Mr Dornan’s constituency in the near future, I will ensure that that is arranged. In the meantime, I am sure that we all congratulate Conrad and all other young people in Scotland who take such a close interest in bee health.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

As I said earlier, brief questions and answers will be welcomed.

Photo of Jayne Baxter Jayne Baxter Labour

The University of Stirling and the University of Sussex have conducted research into planting wild flowers rather than grass on roundabouts and verges and have found that it results in a spectacular increase in bumblebees and hoverflies. What might the Scottish Government do to support other such initiatives to help to sustain and increase our bee population?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The initiative that the member highlights illustrates the fact that work to promote bee health by a number of organisations and academic institutions is increasing across Scotland. The Government is supporting a bee health strategy but, if we could be doing more, I would be delighted to hear about projects that perhaps require support. A number of support mechanisms are in place already.