NEW BEEKEEPING MEASURES TO TAKE THE STING OUT OF PARASITES.
Of the UK's estimated 44,000 beekeepers in the UK, around 99% are amateurs, according to Defra.
The department and the Welsh government have published a joint consultation to gather views from both amateur and commercial bee farmers on the best way to provide support to improve bee health.
Animal welfare minister Lord de Mauley said: "Honeybees are an iconic species which are vital to the environment and I want to make sure that we do all we can to safeguard their future.
"But these bees are susceptible to pests and diseases and need to be cared for properly to aid their long-term survival, which is why we're consulting on new measures to help beekeepers and improve bee health."
The consultation's proposals include increasing efforts to tackle the management of the Varroa mite, with better guidance for bee keepers from the National Bee Unit (NBU) and a new training programme run by the NBU and beekeeping associations for all bee keepers. Bee farmers demonstrating good management of their hives will face fewer official inspections and a new welfare code to remind beekeepers of their responsibility to their bees will be introduced.
The plan also places renewed emphasis on increasing the resilience and preparedness for exotic threats, such as the small hive beetle.
The consultation, drawn up by beekeeping experts, will run until March 9.
FLOWER POWER A honey bee on a daisy flower