Scottish islands to become first honeybee reserve in Britain

Hebridean islands Colonsay and Oronsay will soon become Britain’s first honeybee reserve thanks to a new ruling from the Scottish Government.

The Bee Keeping (Colonsay and Oronsay) Order 2013 will come into affect in January. It makes it an offence to keep any bees on the islands other than the native Black Bee.

Although there are 250 species of of the insect in the UK, Black Bees are the only species of honeybee – the rest are bumble and solitary bees.

There are 50 colonies of Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) living in Colonsay and Oronsay and it’s hoped the Order will protect them from hybridisation with other species.
“The Order fits in with wider work being undertaken on bee health in Scotland,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

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“We are working in close collaboration with the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) and Bee Farmers Association (BFA) to deliver the 10-year Honey Bee Health Strategy which aims to achieve a sustainable and healthy population of honey bees for pollination and honey production in Scotland.”

A quarter of European honeybee colonies have disappeared in recent years due to pesticide use, loss of habitat and disease. In addition, the UK’s bees are also facing threat from parasite the varroa mite.

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