Crisis for West Norfolk beekeepers

WEST Norfolk beekeepers travelled to London to lobby MP Henry Bellingham as part of a mass march highlighting a crisis hitting colonies across the country.

Hundreds of members of the British Beekeeping Association marched down Whitehall this week with smokers puffing and banners waving to present a 140,000-name petition calling for immediate action.

One in three of the UK's colonies did not survive last winter – a loss of 90,000 colonies. The Association estimates each hive contributes 600 annually to the UK economy and the missing 2 billion bees have cost 54 million.

The beekeepers want the Government to dramatically increase funding of bee health from the current 200,000 to 1.6 million a year over the next five years.

Mr Bellingham met West Norfolk representatives Brian Gemmel, of Tilney Fen End and Michael and Mary Lancefield, of Stanhoe, all members of the Lynn beekeepers' association.

They explained the bees' essential pollination role and the problems of treating the varroa mite – a honey bee parasite – and the desperate need for further research.

The MP told the group he would write to the minister about the concerns and he urged constituents worried about the problems with the honey bee to write to him at the House of Commons.