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Busy year sees bees bouncing back in region.

Byline: Ben Hurst Head of News ben.hurst@trinitymirror.com

BELEAGUERED bees in the Midlands are making a comeback and producing record levels of honey.

Climate change and pesticides have been blamed for a serious decline in the population in recent years, sparking concerns about the future of the colonies so crucial for crop pollination.

But, according to a study from the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA), the West Midlands has seen the best crop of honey for the last five years, indicating a recovery in the health of the insects.

In 2012 the West Midlands saw an average of just nine pounds of honey per hive collected, but this summer produced an incredible 33.3 pounds per hive.

However, bees are not out of the woods yet as a report published this week suggested global warming could lead to a parasite which thrives under certain conditions devastating the population.

BBKA Spokesman Tim Lovett, said: "While this increase is great news for beekeepers and honey bees, the historic average is 40lbs plus per hive so there is still some way to go if we are to return to our most productive.

"But beekeepers in the East of England are doing especially well." This year's better weather has been suggested as a major reason behind the upsurge with hot periods, an early spring and high levels of swarming all coming together.

The BBKA said swarm management is central to good beekeeping and the ongoing welfare of honey bees. It can also impact greatly on honey yields, as Tim Lovett explained: "Swarming is a natural phenomenon whereby honey bee colonies reproduce by dividing to create new colonies. Early swarming leaves a weakened parent colony; while late swarming can sometime leave new colonies with insufficient time to stock up for winter.

"A well-trained beekeeper will be able to spot the early signs of swarming and act swiftly to reduce potential losses, and build up the colonies after swarming" he said.

Mr Lovett said: "Beekeeping has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years and it is crucial that we do not lose the momentum. Honey bees are essential pollinators and vital contributors to food production.

"The better weather has helped a great deal but it is also the improving husbandry skills of beekeepers, as they gain experience, that has made a big difference.

"These very precious creatures still need all the help we can give."

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 27, 2014
Words:419
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