Bees: Diseases

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th October 2008.

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Photo of Tom Levitt Tom Levitt Labour, High Peak

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department is funding on ways to combat the varroa mite.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Funding across DEFRA and the devolved administrations on bee health in 2007-08 is around £1.9 million, including £200,000 for research and development. This overall funding includes work to develop sustainable approaches for controlling both statutory and non-statutory pests. This year research projects include work on the taxonomy of UK and exotic honey bee viruses, further details of which can be found on the science pages of the DEFRA website.

Government investment in research on varroa exceeds £2.2 million over the past 12 years. It is proven that the best way of tackling varroa is by means of a careful programme of integrated pest management, and beekeepers need to learn to control it to protect their bee colonies. The National Bee Unit assists beekeepers in improved bee husbandry, and has produced a comprehensive advisory leaflet on the subject.

The priorities for future funding will be determined in the context of developing a bee health strategy in liaison with stakeholders.

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