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UK's mild winter provides a top boost for honeybees.

Byline: Emily Beament Special Correspondent newsdesk@birminghammail.co.uk

ENGLAND'S honeybees fared much better in this year's mild winter than in the bitterly cold conditions the previous year, an annual survey shows.

Around one in 10 honeybee colonies were lost between the beginning of October 2013 and the end of March 2014, compared to a third of colonies which failed to survive in 2012/2013, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) winter survival survey reveals.

It is the best set of results since the survey was rst conducted in 2007 and a turnaround in fortunes on the previous year, which saw the worst losses recorded by the poll.

e West Midlands and all other regions saw much better survival rates this winter than last.

Less severe weather conditions helped more colonies to survive this year, the BBKA said, but warned that the loss of 9.6 per cent of honeybee colonies across England was still too high.

Despite being helped by the mild weather this winter, honeybees still face a number of threats such as the parasitic mite Varroa and honeybee viruses that are associated with it, the BBKA said.

Research is needed to nd practical solutions to deal with Varroa, it urged. e availability of plants which provide food for bees also remains a problem, although it is hoped the Government's national pollinator strategy will help with increasing forage.

E!orts are being made by local beekeeping associations to train, educate and improve beekeepers' skills, the association said.

Dr David Aston, BBKA president, said: "e results from this year's survey are encouraging, but must be seen in the context of longer term trends.

"It is clear that beekeepers are doing their utmost to sustain and increase honeybee colonies through their skilled husbandry."

e survey conducted annually among the association's members revealed the South East had the highest losses, at 15 per cent, while the lowest losses were recorded in the western region, at just under seven per cent.

e biggest improvement on the previous year was seen in the South West, where more than half of honeybee colonies (53 per cent) were lost in 2012/2013, but less than 9 per cent were lost this winter.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 19, 2014
Words:380
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