To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effects of recreational bee keepers and their practices on the bee population.
Recreational beekeepers, who form a substantial majority of beekeepers in the UK, play an important role in helping to combat the decline in the honey bee population, both in terms of ensuring that they practice good husbandry to maintain and increase bee numbers, and through recognising the risks of spreading pests and diseases to other beekeepers if they fail to take action. The recent National Audit Office report highlighted the large numbers of recreational beekeepers who are unknown to the authorities and so who could be unaware of the risks of spread of pests and disease. An additional £2.3 million funding was announced by the Secretary of State in January to support implementation of the initial phase of a 10 year plan to protect and improve the health of honey bees. This involves new work aimed at gaining a more accurate picture of the numbers and distribution of beekeepers and the status of the health of their colonies and increasing significantly the proportion of beekeepers registered on the National Bee Unit's Beebase database in England.