Officials have been stung into action this week to address the tens of thousands of bees being lost in Kent from a dreaded virus plaguing colonies across the world.
Described by Kent County Council as “a disaster,” the authority and experts at Hadlow College are holding a ‘Bee Summit’ today with the aim of rebuilding the rapidly declining colonies.
Agriculturists fear a disease spread by the varroa parastic mite is so decimating hives that it could eventually lead to big food shortages as flowering crops are not pollinated on Kent farms.
Bee keeper Pat Hillman tends to his swarm
It’s estimated that some two billion honey bees in Britain may have died so far.
Now KCC wants to see organisations and businesses encourage the establishment of new hives in schools, workplaces and homes.
“These creatures are vital to our well-being, to our food, environment and economy,” said deputy cabinet member Sean Holden, responsible for rural affairs.
“The summit will be calling together experts to make a plan for all of us to help make our county kinder to bees and better for us, too.”
The bee summit is looking at the crisis in the population
As the clock ticks scientists at the world-leading East Malling Research Centre are working full-out to develop a new crossbreed of bee in a £10 million project.
They are hoping that the new creature - still some five years away - could be a major factor in combating the serious collapse in bee populations.
Among the summit speakers will be Nick Sandford, chairman of the Country Land and Business Association; Sam Page of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and bee-keeper expert Bob Fitzpatrick.
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