To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the emergence of an Asian variation of the bee pathogen Nosema ceranae.
Last year, the National Bee Unit conducted an initial survey to estimate the prevalence of both Nosema species that affect honeybees across England and Wales as part of a horizon scanning project. Nosema ceranae, which is sometimes termed the Asian variant of the more common Nosema apis, was confirmed for the first time in the UK, infecting 37 per cent. of colonies sampled during the summer of 2007. This is the first time that sampling for Nosema ceranae has been carried out. It has been found in samples from 13 counties in England and Wales, including Cornwall and North Yorkshire. Nosema apis was also present in 14 per cent. of these samples.
We do not yet know the impact of Nosema ceranae, but the distribution suggests that it has been present for some time. A more detailed survey to estimate the impact of both Nosema species across England and Wales is planned for this year.