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Thread: Scottish Honeybee Restocking Programme 2013-2014

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    Default Scottish Honeybee Restocking Programme 2013-2014

    On BBC2 at 9pm tonight What's Killing Our Bees? A Horizon Special.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    This series of posts started under the 'Neonics are killing our bees' thread but as the discussion has since focussed on the SG-subsidised 'restocking' issue - and due to the importance of this issue - I've moved it to a new thread here. This area, 'Scaling up and marketing' was originally intended for commercial beekeeping issues. On you go ...

    Gavin

    PS I should add that Lindsay wasn't the one taking the discussion to the current import issue - he just pointed us to the BBC Horizon programme as something of interest regarding bee 'die-offs' and I've given this thread its current title in its new home.
    Last edited by gavin; 06-08-2013 at 04:17 PM. Reason: Explaining the moving of posts

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    Quote Originally Posted by lindsay s View Post
    On BBC2 at 9pm tonight What's Killing Our Bees? A Horizon Special.
    Should be interesting. There is a clip here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01dl1cj

    No responsible journalist should ever claim things like 'dying in their billions' without checking the facts with people like those at the National Bee Unit. Last I heard they were estimating a 20% increase over some period of time I forget now. But everyone (except many beekeepers) says so, so it must be true. Strictly, dying in their billions they do - given that colonies produce huge numbers of short-lived workers every summer.

    I was lucky enough to see those transponders in action one summers day on a visit to see a colleague at Rothamsted. They were following butterflies that summer which was a little frustrating as they tended to flop into the grass whenever the sun went in.
    Last edited by gavin; 02-08-2013 at 05:56 PM.

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    Quite a good programme I thought. Worth catching on iPlayer if you missed it.

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    Must have a look then. I assumed it would be the usual ill researched sensationalist tripe extrapolating from US beekeeping.

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    I thought the programme was balanced and informative. The bumble bee research will hopefully reveal the quantity of pesticides that are picked up in their natural environment. I agree with Drone Rangers post in the queen cage thread about the Italian bee imports that were featured in the programme and I wonder how many seasons they will last in their new environment.

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    Totally agree Lindsay. It is a pity that the results of the study on the effects of Varroa on navigation are not yet available - could add some perspective to the stuff on bee disorientation with pesticides.

    This morning I caught up with the start of the programme on iPlayer having missed the start last night. Hasn't helped the blood pressure to see all those Italian packages being shaken into empty hives (partially filled with new foundation but also old comb too - I thought that it was a condition of the funding that the comb was new?). These could be the very workers that drifted into my and the association's hives earlier in the summer .... along with their Italian strains of Varroa and other pathogens. And no doubt the workers emerging now from the queens mated this summer will have some yellow individuals amongst them.

    The local association will discuss this on Tuesday. We really need to make our voices heard on this. As does the SBA membership.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode...rizon_Special/

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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Hasn't helped the blood pressure to see all those Italian packages being shaken into empty hives
    Hi Gavin
    as I said on another thread it's a strange choice
    If they are NZ Italians they won't do much good
    They are lovely gentle bees but up here they won't build early enough for rape
    Also they will lay like crazy through summer and use up any surplus
    They won't stop brood rearing early enough so will need about 25Kg of feeding/hive
    Most of the Italian blood here at the moment comes from the influence of Buckfast
    Anecdotally they make the worst tempered crosses
    I know folk say the same about Carnie X but I think they are mostly OK
    At least they are well suited to the job in hand (cold climate fast build up bees)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    Hasn't helped the blood pressure to see all those Italian packages being shaken into empty hives (partially filled with new foundation but also old comb too - I thought that it was a condition of the funding that the comb was new?)........

    The local association will discuss this on Tuesday. We really need to make our voices heard on this. As does the SBA membership.
    I couldn't agree more Gavin. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Just spent the last hour writing another letter to the Scottish Beekeeper responding to the BFA guy in this month's edition. He asks that we all work together. Seems a bit of a joke when all the bee farmers do is work for their own commercial self interest.

    Re the programme. Thought it was a decent attempt. Didn't like that they let the imports of those bees pass uncriticised especially when Bill referred later to varroa having coming in on the back of imports. I also wanted to know more about the dosages of neonics being fed by the German researcher to the bees who got lost. Glad that at last it's being acknowledged as a multi-faceted issue.

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    Hi Gerry

    Yes, also keen to hear more of the detail from the German study. There was a paper out last year from a German group - before the French one on the same topic - that suggested that 'field realistic' levels don't seem to have much effect (I think!). Don't recall whether the guy on Horizon was involved.

    It is going a bit far to say that all bee farmers work for their own commercial self-interest. Certainly the writer of that letter is definitely not in that category. I got to know him very well when we were trying to help get a bee cooperative established in Scotland - and prior to that in meetings on the EFB crisis - and he worked hard for the bee farmer community. He also puts in a lot of hours helping the local beekeeping association in Dumfries. That cooperative failed, for a variety of reasons. Murray spends time helping the broader beekeeping community too. Bear in mind that they are running businesses, several of them making all of their income from bees and also employing staff. They have to be focused on making enough profit otherwise their businesses go under, especially in years that have been difficult in beekeeping terms.

    His letter alluded to some moves in the direction you and I wish - he wasn't explicit because he can't be, and he can't be because it isn't his business to say. It isn't mine either, and I don't know whether what is being considered would please or displease me anyway.

    However he has campaigned hard on behalf of the bee farmers for 'restocking' funding, and I'm at odds with him just as much as you are. I think that it is a massive mistake for public funds to be spent importing Italian bees to go into empty Scottish bee boxes. Truly crazy stuff, and I don't understand why the senior people in the SBA didn't object when they had a chance. This afternoon at our association apiary the members who came had another chance to look into the boxes, including the splits from ESBA1 some of which still have quite a number of pure Italian workers drifting in from who knows where no doubt carrying some of their burden of pure Italian Varroa with whatever adapations to Varroa treatments they come with. They're poorly adapted bees for Scotland and will probably make wintering less successful for all of us by spreading unsuitable genetics where they haven't been requeened. They're coming into areas the bee farmers have privately said are already over-stocked. They could be bringing new or variant pathogens to add to the mix we already have. It seems likely to me (but I'm not sure) that some of the imports will keep people in beekeeping that should really be doing something more suited to their skill sets. It is wrong on so many levels.

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    I think they will be from New Zealand Gavin
    Perhaps not though because the chap said they had been travelling a couple of days ?
    Not sure about varroa I think they will be clear of those.
    Always a risk of other problems though.
    Package bees must be very stressed

    One of the big bee farmers was involved in a project to dust the bees with fungicide as a delivery mechanism to tackle botrytis in strawberries
    Hardly something I would want to be associated with
    Bees are a means to an end for some

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