Beekeepers marched on Downing Street yesterday to demand increasing funding for research to discover the cause of declining honey bee populations.

White-suited beekeepers numbering 300 handed in a petition signed by more than 140,000 people calling for funding to be put up from £200,000 each year to £1.6 million over the next five years.

The British Beekeepers’ Association claims that pollination by bees would be worth £825m to the agricultural economy over the same period.

The British Beekeepers’ Association warns that hives are in such poor condition that English honey may run out before Christmas.

Tim Lovett, the association’s chairman, says that hives are collapsing at a rate of 30 per cent each year, the cause being a mystery – although wet weather and the varroa mite have been blamed. Mr Lovett says the loss of bees could lead to an ‘agricultural disaster and decline of wildlife’.

Bees in the UK:
-Britain has 44,000 beekeepers and 274,000 hives, which produce 6,000 tonnes of honey each year
-Two million bees could die this winter because of wet weather, according to the British Beekeepers’ Association

Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) says it is developing a 10-year health strategy for bees, but has yet to commit funds, so, yesterday,
300 beekeepers marched on Downing Street to demand increasing funding for research.

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