A survey conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Buglife found that 17 species of bee are already regionally extinct in the South East of England. There are more than 250 species of bee in the British Isles from the honey bee kept in hives to the solitary wild bees.
The report finds that:
An overall loss of ‘floweriness’ and a decrease in the diversity of flowering plants, along with habitat fragmentation has impacted bee populations. On average the geographic range of bees and hoverfly species declined by a quarter – equivalent to a loss of 11 species from each 1km square.
Bee populations can also be impacted by the spread of diseases.
European Foulbrood (EFB) has been found in a colony of honey bees in an apiary in West Lothian. There are no health implications for humans but the disease is a notifiable one due to its effect on bee populations.
“Larvae of all ages are susceptible to infection and become infected after ingesting food contaminated with the bacteria. The bacterium then multiples in the mid-gut of the larvae and competes for larval food, resulting in the larvae dying of starvation. EFB is characterised by patchy brood with uncapped brood cells where the dead or dying larvae appear curled upwards, and are brown or yellow, making the larvae appear to be ‘molten’ in the cell.” Beeaware
EFB is highly contagious and can remain viable for several years in honey, wax and equipment.
Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer Scotland said:
“This confirmation of EFB in Scottish bees is a timely reminder that bee farmers and beekeepers should be vigilant for signs of diseases as they go through their hives, they should maintain good husbandry practices at all times and notify any suspicion of disease to Scottish Government bee inspectors.”
The Scottish Government is urging people who keep bees to register on BeeBase – the national bee database.
There is compelling evidence according to WWF of the decline in many pollinator groups across Europe
The report from WWF and Buglife on bee species in the south east of England found 25 species threatened and 17 now extinct. The detailed report contains action points which would help to save the bee species we have.
- ongoing survey and monitoring of bee populations
- improve the evidence base relating to our wild pollinators
- maintain and increase awareness, advice, support and funding for practical delivery projects for pollinator conservation through farmer clusters
- safeguard wildlife-rich brownfield sites, raise their profile and promote beneficial management
- ensure that coastal management plans enable the protection of coastal habitats and raise awareness and promote the management of sea walls for the wildlife they can support
- promote coordinated management between landowners and landholdings that provides a mosaic of habitat and relinks disjointed fragments of grassland in the landscape
- promote coordinated management between landowners and landholdings that provides a mosaic of habitat and relinks disjointed fragments of heathland in the landscape
- Local Authorities can work with and support local communities in assessing urban areas for pollinators and implementing changes in management as well as proactive projects to restore and create new habitat, building on the model of projects such as Urban Buzz.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame