Benefits of bees and problems they face highlighted at Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society meeting

A healthy bee population brings significant benefits to agriculture and it’s vital they are carefully monitored to check for disease, West Norfolk farmers were told.

The benefits bees bring to farming and the problems they face were explained to members of Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society by Keith Morgan, regional bee inspector with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

He gave a talk at Ryston Park Golf Club earlier in the same week that the society held its annual dinner at Downham Town Hall.

Mr Morgan said that to be a beekeeper the Agency requires a person to have a background in beekeeping and perhaps this could be something other government agencies should adopt.

The role of a bee inspector includes an inspection regime to help control notifiable bee diseases and pests, including the Asian hornet that affect hives, and training beekeepers taking honey samples to check for purity and research.

The National Bee Unit was set up in 1942 by Winston Churchill when American foulbrood, which only affects honey bees, was found to be killing hives. For pollinating crops one hive per hectare is the norm. Bees like a diversity of forage and can roam in an area up to 5km from a hive and it is possible to get up to four crops of honey per year.

The forage includes oil seed rape, beans, orchard trees, borage, hawthorn, heather, ivy, lime and blackberries.

Each hive contains a queen, several hundred drones and up to 70,000 workers.

At the annual dinner on Friday, March 10, society chairman, John Hall welcomed Lorne Green, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk who proposed the Toast to British Agriculture.

The raffle raised £775, the proceeds of which will go to The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The next meeting is on Tuesday, October 10, at Ryston Park Golf Club at 7.30pm. New members are always welcome.